Google’s first female engineer says Google has seen an overall decline in the quality of its search results, but raises the idea that this is just a window into the web, suggesting it’s maybe the whole internet getting worse.
Marissa Mayer, who worked at Google from 2009 to 2012, was the guest of a Freakonomics podcast where she addressed users’ biggest complaint – the company choosing ads over organic results.
Marissa Mayer, who worked at Google from 2009 to 2012, admitted there has been a decline but suggests the internet may be going downhill
She explained that 80% of searches don’t include paid URLs and believes ads can provide users with exactly what they’re looking for, even more so than organic URLs.
Google isn’t blind to decline either, and supplements its index of one trillion web pages by showing users curated content, as well as providing text “snippets” right in the text – eliminating the need for scroll page after page.
More than 80% of revenue for Alphabet, Google’s parent company, comes from search engine advertising, and 85% of all online searches are done with Google.
Breaking these facts down by number shows why Google is inundated with paid content, but displaying them all at the top is enough to influence user behaviors and earns the company a large sum of money for each click.
Mayer was Google’s first female engineer when she joined the company in 1999 and even ran the search engine during her 13 years there.
Prior to his employment, Mayer struggled to go to Google.
‘The refrain I heard most often from people who knew I thought I was working there was, ‘Why does the world need another search engine? There are already about a dozen that are pretty good,” she said during the podcast.
It wasn’t until Mayer sat down with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin that she was convinced that Google was the way of the future. The founders told him “good enough is not good enough for research”.
And from there, she began her journey with the tech giant.
“When you see the quality of your search results dropping, it’s natural to blame Google and say, ‘Why are they worse?'” Mayer says.
“For me, the most interesting and sophisticated thought is if you say, ‘Wait, but Google is just a window on the web. The real question is, why is the web getting worse? »
She gave an example of how ads work better than organic links, using the idea that someone is looking to buy “Madonna Tour tickets.”
Mayer praised Google for its ads, saying they sometimes outperform organic results and only 80% of searches show ads.
Businesses that pay to have their link appear at the top are more likely to have tickets available for purchase.
However, many users expect to see real search results when looking for the best hotels in New York or where to open a savings account, and this is where the problem arises.
Google doesn’t show organic search results above a section called “People Also Ask”, which is the “solution” mentioned by Mayer that provides users with a snippet, so they don’t leave the engine of research.
“I think Google is more reluctant to send users to the web,” Mayer said during a Freakonomics talk.
“And to me, that indicates a natural tension where they say, ‘Wait, we see that the web sometimes isn’t a great experience for our researchers. We keep them on our page.
Ads haven’t always been Google’s way.
The company didn’t always show them because it feared it would degrade the user experience. Still, Mayer and other Google innovators have come up with an experiment to test the idea.
In 2000, the team rolled out a trial that showed 99% of users’ ads and 1% didn’t see them.
The results showed that people who saw ads did three percent more searches than those who didn’t.
“So basically there was a nice difference over a long period of time that people liked Google search results more and searched more when they had ads than when they didn’t. that I really thought validated,” Mayer said.
The team disabled the experience, but continued to show ads.
WHERE DOES GOOGLE’S PHRASE “DON’T BE EVIL” COME FROM?
For the past 24 years, the Silicon Valley giant has made “Don’t be mean” central to its code of conduct to demonstrate that it wants Googlers to strive to do what it does. should.
“Don’t be mean” was first added to the company’s code of conduct in 2000 and has been highly touted by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin over the years.
The company has dedicated several paragraphs to this phrase in its code of conduct.
But that changed as part of a code update last month that downgrades “Don’t be mean” to a single sentence at the bottom of the document.
Here are the original paragraphs explaining Google’s “Don’t be evil” principle:
‘Do not be evil.’ Googlers generally apply these words to how we serve our users. But “Don’t be mean” is much more than that. Yes, it’s about providing our users with unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs, and offering them the best possible products and services. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally – obeying the law, acting honorably and treating colleagues with courtesy and respect.
Google’s Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put “Don’t be mean” into practice. It’s built around the recognition that everything we do as part of our job at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical conduct. We set the bar this high for reasons that are both practical and ambitious: our commitment to the highest standards helps us hire great people, create great products, and attract loyal users. Trust and mutual respect between employees and users is the basis of our success, and it is something that we must earn every day.
So please read the Code and follow both its spirit and its letter, always keeping in mind that each of us has a personal responsibility to incorporate, and encourage other Googlers to incorporate, the principles of the Code into our work. And if you have a question or think that one of your fellow Googlers or the company as a whole is not living up to our commitment, don’t be quiet. We want – and need – to hear from you.