Where are the good search engines?
September 24, 2021 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I am just about out of patience with Google as a search engine. As an example, a search on the "Instacart strike" returns results from 2020 for the entire first page. (It's been like that this entire week.)

I've been finding it increasingly unreliable, and generally half the first page of results are taken up with advertising a lot of times. I just want to search general stuff, things that strike my curiosity, research on things I want to buy, recent news...basically stuff that I used to be able to rely on Google for. Is there something better out there?
posted by toastyk to Technology (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am just about out of patience with Google as a search engine. As an example, a search on the "Instacart strike" returns results from 2020 for the entire first page.

To help narrow down answers, could you clarify what you would have preferred the results be from entering that search term?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2021


You can also click on Tools --> and under Any time, choose a more recent time range like "Past week" to see if there are updates on particular things you're searching for.
posted by jabes at 9:04 AM on September 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


'Cause when I click on the tools option for the 'time' and select results from the 'past week', I get links from just that time frame.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:04 AM on September 24, 2021


Switched to Duck Duck Go a while ago, for reasons of privacy, since they claim not to save search histories. However, my patience with that site grows thin since all the top results are now always commercial. If you want more search engines, check out Colossus and if you find something better please report back here.
posted by Rash at 9:19 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


If you want recent news, go to the "news" tab -- for your Instacart strike example, they're all news article from the past few days.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:32 AM on September 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks for that tip DoubleLune...is there a good explanation for why it doesn't show up in the regular search results?
posted by toastyk at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2021


Best answer: Librarian here. Sometimes a better search tool is what you need, but sometimes you just need a few tweaks to use a tool better. Facets are an incredibly powerful tool for your research.

Clicking from your search for "instacart strike" to the "News" option, I see results from the past few days to few weeks.

Then, I clicked on Tools and changed the date range from "Recent" to "Past Week." You could then sort by "Date" rather than "Relevance" if you wanted the most recent things. You can also change "Past Week" to "Past 24 Hours" to really things down.

The algorithm is going to give its best estimate on what you mean when you search, but the facets give you, as the searcher, a lot more options for being more precise and getting what you want.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:40 AM on September 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


As for why those recent news items aren't showing up: the algorithm doesn't know you're searching for a current event. If you look at the top results from your first search, they're from CNN, NY Times, NBC, all really big news organizations, which I suspect weigh more heavily in results. The News tabs shows that the coverage is there but in smaller outlets.

Using facets isn't a failure of the search tool, but a way to limit your search appropriately.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:42 AM on September 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


Search for "instacart strike 2021" brings up all the current results.

Another thing to do to improve your Google experience is to go into Settings (top right gear icon), then "See all settings", and select 100 results per page, up from the standard 10. This will add several years to your life. (You do have to stay logged in to a Google account, of course. Also, next to the slider it implies that 100 will be slower, but with a decent device and broadband connection, there is no perceptible slowness.)
posted by beagle at 11:41 AM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]




You will also get better/different results when logging into Google under a different account, it is not a bad idea to have two Google accounts, one for work related searches and one for leisure.

and generally half the first page of results are taken up with advertising
uBlock origin
posted by Lanark at 12:36 PM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I've just started using Presearch and so far I really like it. You can add buttons for sites that you regularly search (Wikipedia, StackOverflow, YouTube, Reddit, Dictionary.com, etc) plus you earn cryptocurrency (PRE tokens) for using it.
posted by mezzanayne at 1:32 PM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Lanark already said it, but here is the link to uBlock origin. It looks like it supports Chromium, Firefox, Edge, & Safari.
posted by polecat at 3:37 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


half the first page of results are taken up with advertising a lot of times

This is 2021. More than half of the entire Internet is taken up with advertising a lot of times. If you're browsing without ad blocking in 2021, you're doing Internet wrong.

uBlock Origin is the business.
posted by flabdablet at 8:14 PM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


I’ve found DuckDuckGo is satisfactory for me, with a very occasional reversion to Google. I use 1Blocker on Safari on both Mac and iPhone/iPad. I really haven’t noticed that commercial vs. non-commercial search results, but some commercial stuff is valuable as well.
posted by lhauser at 10:37 PM on September 24, 2021


is there a good explanation for why it doesn't show up in the regular search results?

While Google doesn't publicize the exact details of its search algorithm, one of the major inputs is its PageRank algorithm, which tracks how many other websites link to a given piece of content. New content pretty much by definition doesn't have as many links to it, so it's less likely to grab extremely new sources if there's another good match (as in this case where there was a previous Instacart strike story in the 2020s that was fairly widely reported). The News tab focuses on news site search and weights the recentness of articles much higher, so I pretty much always skip the general results for current events research.
posted by Aleyn at 12:44 AM on September 25, 2021 [5 favorites]


Seconding beagle's excellent suggestion to switch your search result settings to 100 results per page - but noting that, at least for me, you do NOT have to be logged in to a Google account to keep that setting active. For me, the 100 results setting is remembered across sessions, even though I am not logged in to Google at all. (I use Chrome for Google, Firefox for everything else.) I'm guessing Google uses cookies for this, so if you clear your cookies, you'll probably have to reset that 100 results setting, but otherwise, it should remember it even when you're not logged in to Google.
posted by kristi at 11:29 PM on September 27, 2021


Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all the tips. I found them very useful. I think I'm just dissatisfied overall with Google in general and that may be impacting my annoyance.
posted by toastyk at 8:49 AM on September 28, 2021 [1 favorite]


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