A recent leaked audio recoding of a Google all-hands meeting has led to reports that users of its search engine have grown frustrated with query results, suggesting information the engine pulls in and serves up have become less relevant and incomplete.
Users have complained about seeing too many ads and irrelevant results in exchange for information they can use to answer queries. And while Google is spending a lot of time on artificial intelligence (AI), it is not the only answer.
Prabhakar Raghavan, Google's senior vice president of search, told employees that the company was working on ways for search to display helpful resources in query results, and that a little-known feature announced in May at Google I/O would change that sentiment.
"Many of you may wonder how we have a search team that's iterating and building all this new stuff and yet somehow, users are still not quite happy," Raghavan said. "We need to make users happy."
The newest resource for Google Search users -- Perspectives, announced at Google I/O earlier this year -- highlights the ability to surface more relevant content from discussion forums and videos from social media platforms like Quora, Reddit, TikTok, and YouTube.
Those using Google Search want to see more content from Reddit and others in results. Reddit, for example, has been in search for years, but Perspectives helps to surface that content in results much easier by filtering results from everyday experts based on personal experience.
When thousands of Reddit forums went dark earlier this month, many pages in search results were left inaccessible or unhelpful, because moderators of some of the most popular forums turned their pages to private as part of a widespread protest of Reddit's decision to start charging developers to access to its data through Reddit's API.
The Reddit blackout reinforced for certain people the importance of the site, and others like it, in Google Search. Those searching for information want to see more of this type of content in results.
CEO Sundar Pichai believes users don’t want “blue links” as much as they want “comprehensive” answers, according to the leaked audio.
"Our experiments show that Google satisfies the overwhelming majority of user needs, and we're always improving Search to meet the evolving needs of every one of our users," Lara Levin, a Google spokesperson, wrote in a email to Search & Performance Marketing Daily. "For example, we know some people want easy ways to find specific types of results, including insights from others online. Features like the Perspectives filter are part of how we're making sure people continue to find the most helpful info on Google from a wide range of sources and formats."