Here’s a cute little site I found a while back on John Battelle’s Searchblog. It’s called givemebackmygoogle.com and its slogan is “Google results without all the annoying affiliate links.” It uses Google to achieve its results and simple transforms your search into a Google advanced search that blocks many affiliate sites.
I think the need for sites like this points to serious chinks in Google’s armor. Remember the simple basics of how Google got to where they are — by inventing PageRank and inbound-links as the relevance metric (and not term frequency) they were able to get better search results, where “better” specifically meant: more free from spam, and less susceptible to gaming.
But, more than a decade after PageRank’s invention, the counter-spies have had plenty of time to fool it. Increasingly, I find lots of affiliate trash in my search results, I find lots of blogscraped sites whose only existence is to sell ads, and plenty of other trash getting by Google’s filters.
For example, I keep a list of searches I’ve done over the past several months that haven’t given me results that were useful in helping me solve the problem at hand. Here are a few of them:
- Restaurants Palo Alto
- New York Hotel
- Lake Shasta Ranches
- Steve Mills
- Estate Planning Lawyers Palo Alto
This argues for vertical search in many cases. Consider the first, which is far better answered with OpenTable, or the second which is better answered with Kayak, or the fouth which is better answered with ZoomInfo.
Update: I was contacted by Nitin Karandikar, author of The Software Abstractions Blog, who had posted this piece which comes to similar conclusions. I think Nitin’s blog has a lot of great content on vertical search and I am now a subscriber.