In the latest round of search engine tweaks, Google says that mobile searches will now feature more news results, rather than the frankly irrelevant results, that a typical search on your iPhone or Android device might bring up.
There is a distinct problem with phone searches on Google in my view. Far too often the results feature photos near the top of page, when you haven’t asked for photos. Ditto video clips. If you’re looking for a very detailed answer to a technical question, then a phone search is often frustrating, and ultimately a waste of time. You just don’t get the answers you want, unless you fire up a PC or laptop. Then the search results are more relevant, more focussed.
Why this should be, remains a mystery to me, but anything that can be done to improve phone searches can only be good news. However, the thing is, not all UK news sources are useful.
For example, most regional UK newspaper sites are appallingly written, littered with basic spelling and grammatical errors, plus they feature a selection of spammy adverts and sponsored advertorial links, disguised as `news’ at the foot of each page. Surely these spammy links break the early Penguin and Panda updates from back in 2012? Why is Google giving high page rank to regional news sites which cannot publish a story without placing three or four adverts within the tedious, often childishly written, copy?
Here’s another example; The Mirror site now carries sponsored news stories on the tragic, broken lives of those people willing to prostitute their personal lives on the Jeremy Vile – sorry, Kyle – TV show. This is NOT news. It’s a blatant advert for a TV channel and some might say it demeans The Mirror, the tabloid that likes to boast `makes you think.’
Other national newspapers are also keen on making their sites pay by featuring all manner of PR related content – I will say it again, this `content’ is not news.
It isn’t unbiased, it often isn’t that informative and frequently has recycled quotes and facts trawled from previous web searches. In short, there isn’t any real journalism going on; no fact checks, no original phone call quotes, no rival points of view mentioned. No depth of insight. It’s `churnalism,’ not journalism.
If Google can filter out this type of `news’ result, then phone searches will improve for users, but I doubt it. Expect more spammy content, more dreary, `celeb’ and reality TV show news and ultimately, expect more disappointment when searching for the info you want.
Like most monopolies, Google’s grip on search engine tech isn’t a good thing in the long run.