Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land put together a lengthy explanation of how Google has been dropping the ball in search recently, and what they can do about it. It’s a good overview, and his conclusion is particularly interesting to me:
We should continue to hold Google and search engines to a high standard and highlight where things clearly go wrong. But we should also understand that perfection isn’t going to be possible. That with imperfect search engines, we need to employ more human critical thinking skills alongside the searches we do — and that we teach those to generations to come.
Life itself rarely has “one true answer” to anything. Expecting Google or any search engine to give them is a mistake.
I agree; I think users should have always been viewing search results with much more scrutiny than they do. But many people are lulled into believing that Google’s representation of the truth is the correct one. Their rich snippet answer box made this already-pervasive belief far worse by highlighting a single piece of a webpage as, seemingly, The Answer, even for questions where The Answer doesn’t exist. That’s a deliberate design decision on Google’s part, and one that should be reversed.