Top Google executives have reportedly acknowledged user dissatisfaction with the current search experience in the wake of the recent Reddit suspensions.
In response, Google is taking action to improve its search engine results. Recently, Google introduced a new “Perspectives” feature to provide searchers with more comprehensive answers.
Perspectives showcases content from forums and videos on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, and Quora. Google hopes that by including content from more sources, it will improve the quality and breadth of information searchers get.
However, it’s unclear if the new feature goes far enough to address user complaints about Google Search.
The Reddit blackout and its impact on Google Search
Google searchers have historically appended searches with “Reddit” to find helpful resources on specific topics.
However, the effectiveness of this tactic was hampered when thousands of Reddit forums became inactive earlier in the month.
Moderators of the most popular forums have made their pages private as part of a widespread protest at Reddit’s decision to charge developers for access to its data.
Google executives, including Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s head of search, and Sundar Pichai, CEO, took note of the issue at a company-wide meeting.
According to CNBC, Raghavan acknowledged that users were unhappy and stressed the need to keep them happy, responding to an employee’s comment about negative user feedback due to too many ads and irrelevant results.
Pichai believes users are looking for “broader answers,” so they add the name of forum sites like Reddit to their search.
He said people don’t want ‘blue links’ so much as they want comprehensive solutions.
Google’s approach to improving search
A key initiative in Google’s quest for better search results is the newly introduced Perspectives feature.
Raghavan suggested that introducing “perspectives” could be a way to get better results without requiring users to append “reddit” to their searches.
Still, Google recognizes that solving its search quality problem isn’t as simple as introducing Perspectives or making more use of AI.
While Google has made significant strides in generative AI — launching Bard, a ChatGPT competitor, and working on a project called Search Generative Experience — executives admit that AI alone won’t improve quality.
The future of Google search
While Perspectives is one of Google’s steps to address the problem of providing authentic discussions and comprehensive answers, it’s not the only answer to the problem.
Lara Levin, a Google spokeswoman, told CNBC that search “satisfies the overwhelming majority of user needs” and Google is continually improving search to meet the evolving needs of its users.
She added that features like Perspective Filter help Google ensure users continue to find the most helpful information from a variety of sources and formats on Google.
Despite these efforts, many believe Google should focus on creating traditional Search results more helpful, on the grounds that these results have made Google what it is today.