Zyra.me.uk //// ZYRA //// Search Engines //// Pages about Google //// Site Index
A critique of good and bad aspects of the famous Google Search Engine www.google.com featured at Zyra's interesting website Zyra.org.uk
Google. We quite like Google for various reasons. (or at least we DID. Most of this page is now in the past tense). ... The searching is good and gives well-focused results like a spotlight rather than the cluster-bomb kind of thing you see at some places or the domain-based thing which is unfair and gives a very poor return. (or at least it DID) Google, however, gets it about right on the searching and you can usually find something to do with what you are looking for. (or at least you could).
We also like Google because the people are into Linux and have built the search engine machine out of ten thousand computers running Linux all linked together. Linux is good, <insert pro-revolutionist slogan here!>.
Google people will TALK to you. You can write an e-mail and it'll most likely be answered. Pretty good, eh? (This is something which WAS the case. No more, it seems).
The usability of Google is good across a wide ability range of customers. If you have no techie knowhow you can type stuff any-old-how into the search-box and Google will most likely find you something about right. Or, if you're into the technical control of machines, there's an Advanced Search where you can specify exclusions and/or conditions etc. (True, but not as good as it WAS)
Why is Google called Google? - it's to do with Googol, being a hint at large numbers being involved!
At Google, sponsored links are clearly marked and relatively discreet. This is good, and makes Google much more attractive as a prospective favourite search engine than some other places which have lots of stupid annoying pop-ups (how to get rid of annoying pop-ups), and the clear and honest marking of sponsored links shows a reputable ethic. Well Done Google! (Update: Sponsored results are now partially hidden. Bad news).
If you're wondering why there's no Google search-box on this page or anywhere else on at Zyra's website, I'll tell you that it is one of the few things wrong with Google that they've got an exclusivity clause on the use of Google searchboxes. If you have a Google search box you're not allowed to have ANY other search boxes anywhere on your website. To comply, we'd have to get rid of the little Amazon searchbox on the bookshops page, desist our support of a new small business at Gobango, and lose our freedom to support fair competition at the search engines page, and various other things. This is an exclusivist condition and is Very Bad Form! (see Barno). We only forgive Google because they're so good on so many other things, and anyway it's possible to get around the stupid anticompetitive rule about search-boxes by just putting a Link in instead. Like this: www.google.com - see! However, Google has no need to have that rule, and should change it right away!
Now about the dreaded keyword problem. Some time in mid 2003, Google completely changed the rules and moved the goalposts about "keywords". (Keywords are words hidden in the "headers" of a web page, to help search engines to find the right pages). Previous to the change a reasonably liberal policy was taken on keywords. If a page was about Cats for example, it would be quite reasonable to put words like "moggies" ... "felines" ... etc in the keywords. These wouldn't appear on the page as it would look cumbersome. After the change, any keywords like "moggies" in a page which doesn't specifically have the word "moggies" in it is Banished! Now, you might say that's a bit drastic, and I might have a grumble about it myself on some of the many late nights as for many weeks now I have been working on mending over a thousand pages at my site that happened to have keywords that pedantically weren't actually in the page. To be honest about it, this whole dreaded keyword problem has made me ill. I have suffered because of it. It's terrible.
But, strange as it may seem, I understand! I can see why Google have had to implement this draconian policy. At a guess, some people have been creating entirely bogus pages selling something arbitrary and then putting some very tasty meaty keywords in that have got nothing to do with the page content but are there just to tempt search engines. The computer programs aren't clever enough to tell the difference between the moggies=cats situation and the totally disreputable problem, so as usual we all suffer because of the inappropriate behaviour of a small minority.
So, though I've suffered having to put in weeks of work, it is in a way in the cause of fighting the problems in the world, so it may ultimately be worth it.
I'm curious to know why the page Pictures of Cats does so much worse than the page Pictures of Dogs on search engine rankings. Are they biased against Freeserve, for example? Also there is the Mystery of Stamp Demon where a good website is being missed-out by Google. Why?! (Note: the Mystery of Stamp Demon was solved, and the resulting solution showed Google's algorithm seriously flawed).
One of the problems Google has is the sussing-out of the Google Algorithm by people wanting to push various spam-based irrelevant websites. In the end this may not be solvable, and it may result in the downfall of search engines, or at least any that has a virtual monopoly. See Search Engine Problems . However, all is not lost. Not yet, anyway. Google has (previously had) a solution which should help versus some of the trouble. You can report cheating! This in itself should help as a deterrent to stop some of the worst excesses of "Search Engine Obfuscation"! See How to Report Cheating on Google (This is also no longer the case, as it's now almost impossible to contact Google).
Then there's the mystery of "Taliban.com", which is an intriguing story of subterfuge, secrecy, and skulduggery. It was at the time when the United States government was invading yet another small country in a gung-ho Vietnam style and making out it was all glorious and God was on their side and all that kind of rubbish. At that time there was a group of religious fanatics called The Taliban, and I wondered if they'd got a website, and if so whether they were making similar claims about God being on their side too. Upon doing some research into this it turned out that many websites linked to a site that was www.taliban.com and I wasn't sure of the spelling so I went to Google to get a second opinion. Strangely, the Taliban website was down. So, I looked at the Google Cache of Taliban.com ... and that's when I realised there was a smell a bit like a rat. Instead of seeing "cache of Taliban.com" I was being shown "cache of Seneca.org", and bearing in mind this kind of thing never happens, I considered this a bit fishy. Was Taliban.com being Hushed Up?!
Let's stop and be sensible about this. I don't like religious extremism of any denomination, and I consider some of the things the Taliban did were deplorable. But, if we the good people start banning things and censoring websites just because we don't like what people are saying, then we're as bad as they are! Also, with fanatical believers it's often best to let them speak and let the people decide for themselves that it's a lot of twaddle. By common sense!
I wondered for a while if Google was in league with the United States Secret Police, but this notion never really fitted with the facts. The evidence of the friendliness and the Linux and the good sense in most searches, it never seemed to tally up. And then suddenly I sussed the vital clue to this whole mystery and didn't feel so bad about it after that. The clue was: Seneca. Seneca was an ancient philosopher of the Stoic school of thought, and he was quite well-liked for a while by the authority figures of this time in history but eventually when he fell out of favour he was put to death. Nothing unusual in that, as authorities generally kill off anyone they don't like, and this has been going on throughout most of history. The present age is no exception. However, it is the Style of Seneca's death which is interesting. They made him drink poison.
So, it is my speculation that Google was forced to censor-out Taliban.com from the cache. The people at Google didn't want to censor it but were forced to do so by the authorities. So, as a subtle protest, they made the link "Seneca.org" to poetically signify they were being made to swallow a bitter draught.
Update 2011: In early 2011 it turned out that some pages were missing from search results because of stupidly picky reasons. I don't intend to go into details, but essentially it's that pages were assumed (by Google) to be irrelevant nonsense if they had the wrong colour or the wrong font or capitalisation. This is absurd and makes us wonder if the fight between Google and the SEO-nonsense has reached a point of desperation. (Oh yes)
Update 2011/06: In February 2011, Google introduced "Block All [site] content" where you can choose to block particular sites. This, apparently, is to deal with something they call "content farms". Now that sounds worrying, because my site has Real Content, and I worry that Google is going to ban it because they suddenly don't like content?! Well no, that would be absurd! Content is the essence of good stuff on the Net. So, what is this really about? Apparently "content farms" are mass-produced pulp generated by paying authors to write stuff and then it is hyped up by bogus manipulation of SEO. The problem is that many of the subsistence-wage authors that work for content farms have almost no clue about the subject they are writing. So, giving folk the chance to ban them might, Google believes, improve the Quality of content around. I am not convinced, and I believe that people will tend to ban sites that express views that they don't agree with. So, it will end up being a conformity-based search results system, which then content farms will exploit to an even worse extent. I'm not saying I have the answer, but as the victim of countless attempts to ban things despite not being guilty of any of the things I am accused of, I feel that this could be yet another bad outcome. However, let's wait and see, and hope for the best. Indeed, let's not look too gloomily on it just yet. Someone at Google has said that the results should be positive about sites that have Quality and Original Content. Well that's what there is here! It's real content, it's taken years to write it, and if there's any mistakes you are welcome to write in and mention them, and then they'll get mended.
For Google without annoying autocomplete, use www.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en
Update 2012/03/04: Google has done quite well many years, but now there is yet another change which could be the end for Google. It's sad, but they've brought it on themselves. The problem starts with What to do about Google changing the titles of YOUR site webpages but it is actually a much bigger problem. Google used to be a really good search engine, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_be_evil ), but it looks now as if those days are over, and Google may have to be replaced. Still, they have time to mend their ways.
Update 2012/07: Google is now, in my opinion, a spent force. it seems you can't even get a website included unless you sign up, which is very dodgy. The nonsense about banning content got worse, and now Google Search has been taken over by rubbish, while at the same time real content sites are doing very badly on Google. There is hypocrisy at Google as the advice being given does not fit with the facts. Google tells you to do things a particular way and then behaves entirely counter to that. A great many people are criticising Google for it.
Because of the failings of Google, people are looking for replacement search engines. Blekko is succeeding where Google is failing.
Incidentally, you can put Google to the test using pages at my site. Find a page using the site index here and then search for it on Google. You may find it's badly listed or not even there, and the search results that appear are often irrelevant. For example, Boston Mental Hospital, not even in the Google results on 2012/07/07. Logarithms Explained , Frequency to Wavelength, etc etc. I could go on and on. In summary, Google is not the quality search engine it used to be in 2005. Google has fallen from grace. Time to move on. Blekko , Duck Duck Go , and others, (please let us know). It beggars belief how Google can have done so badly and made such monumentally bad decisions. Maybe there are a few people working for Google who have damaged the place. Notice I am not mentioning names.
2012/07/07: If I had shares in Google, I would now be selling and dumping the stock!
A few useful contacts:
www.google.com - actual link to the place
Page of Search Engines - in a free market
List of everything in Zyra.org.uk
Incidentally, if you feel there's something important that needs to be added or adjusted about some of the stuff on this page, you are welcome to write in. e-mail
If you would like to phone Google, there are some helpful telephone numbers on the page of Google Phone Numbers!
Update: In 2012 there was the additional Google Problem. This is so bad that a whole set of pages have been created about the different aspects of it! Such things as the Stupid Google Updates the Google has alienated us , Google is Flawed , What if Google went Bust? , and Stuff Google! Then it starts to get morbid... Google to be haunted by suicide victims
Very few websites dare to criticise Google. However, there are getting to be more of them now, including...
World's Worst Search Engine - one of the first pages ever to denounce Google
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-bowdon/why-has-google-been-colle_b_825754.html - Google spying on people?, data mining?, etc?
Google Sucks: http://www.xenmediasolutions.com/news/theres-been-a-big-shift-in-your-google-search-results/
http://voices.yahoo.com/stupid-stuff-google-does-4939822.html?cat=35 - mockery of Google doing a few stupid things and being completely out of touch
WHY Google Sucks! http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/sectorsinfotech/Why-Google-Sucks/Article1-367883.aspx
http://www.tipsinablog.com/2012/04/google-sucks-actually-google-sucks-big-time.html - apparently, Google sucks bigtime!
www.I Hate Google.org
http://www.modernstreet.com/google/google-penguin/ - Google Penguin a disaster and now Google search results are even worse!
www.fairsearch.org/trustnomore/ - Well, would you trust Google after reading what they have done?
Also see How to Run a Search Engine Properly!