In the wake of recent Reddit blackouts, top executives at Google have reportedly acknowledged user discontent with the current search experience.
In response, Google is taking action to improve its search engine results. Recently, Google rolled out a new “Perspectives” feature to give searchers more comprehensive answers.
Perspectives surfaces content from forums and videos on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, and Quora. Google hopes incorporating content from more sources will improve the quality and breadth of information searchers receive.
However, it’s unclear whether the new feature goes far enough to address user complaints about Google Search.
The Reddit Blackout & Its Impact on Google Search
Google searchers have historically appended queries with “Reddit” to find helpful resources on specific topics.
However, the effectiveness of this tactic took a hit when thousands of Reddit forums went dark earlier this month.
Moderators of the most popular forums turned their pages private as part of a widespread protest of Reddit’s decision to start charging developers for access to its data.
Google executives, including Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s head of search, and Sundar Pichai, the CEO, have acknowledged the issue at a company-wide meeting.
According to CNBC, Raghavan admitted that users are unhappy and emphasized the need to make them happy, responding to an employee’s comment about negative user feedback due to too many ads and irrelevant results.
Pichai believes that users are searching for “more comprehensive answers,” so they add the name of forum sites like Reddit to their searches.
He said people don’t want “blue links” as much as they want comprehensive solutions.
Google’s Approach To Enhancing Search
One key initiative in Google’s quest for improved search results is the newly introduced feature, “Perspectives.”
Raghavan suggested that introducing “Perspectives” could be a way to offer better results without requiring users to append “Reddit” to their search queries.
Yet, Google acknowledges that solving its search quality issue isn’t as straightforward as rolling out Perspectives or relying more on AI.
While Google has made significant strides in generative AI – launching Bard, a ChatGPT competitor, and working on an effort known as the Search Generative Experience – executives admit AI alone won’t improve quality.
The Future of Google Search
While Perspectives is one of the steps taken by Google to address the issue of surfacing authentic discussion and comprehensive answers, it’s not the only answer to the problem.
Lara Levin, a Google spokeswoman, tells CNBC that search “satisfies the overwhelming majority of user needs,” and Google is continuously improving Search to meet the evolving needs of its users.
She added that features like the Perspectives filter are part of how Google ensures people continue to find the most helpful information on Google from a wide range of sources and formats.
Despite these efforts, many believe Google should focus on making traditional search results more helpful, arguing that these results are what made Google what it is today.