Jan 26, 2023

The Open Secret of Google Search

This article is not about any of the “normal” topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, it is about a topic that I feel all computer users should know.

If you are looking for any of the “normal” topics of this newsletter. you might skip this one. However, I don’t recommend that.

From an article by Charlie Warzel published in the MSN web site:

In February, an engineer named Dmitri Brereton wrote a blog post about Google’s search-engine decay, rounding up leading theories for why the product’s “results have gone to shit.” The post quickly shot to the top of tech forums such as Hacker News and was widely shared on Twitter and even prompted a PR response from Google’s Search liaison, Danny Sullivan, refuting one of Brereton’s claims. “You said in the post that quotes don’t give exact matches. They really do. Honest,” Sullivan wrote in a series of tweets.

[Read: Be careful what you Google]

Brereton’s most intriguing argument for the demise of Google Search was that savvy users of the platform no longer type instinctive keywords into the search bar and hit “Enter.” The best Googlers—the ones looking for actionable or niche information, product reviews, and interesting discussions—know a cheat code to bypass the sea of corporate search results clogging the top third of the screen. “Most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust,” Brereton argued, therefore “we resort to using Google, and appending the word ‘reddit’ to the end of our queries.” Brereton cited Google Trends data that show that people are searching the word reddit on Google more than ever before.

Instead of scrolling through long posts littered with pop-up ads and paragraphs of barely coherent SEO chum to get to a review or a recipe, clever searchers got lively threads with testimonials from real people debating and interacting with one another. Most who use the Reddit hack are doing so for practical reasons, but it’s also a small act of protest—a way to stick it to the Search Engine Optimization and Online Ad Industrial Complex and to attempt to access a part of the internet that feels freer and more human.

Google has built wildly successful mobile operating systems, mapped the world, changed how we email and store photos, and tried, with varying success, to build cars that drive themselves. This story, for example, was researched, in part, through countless Google Search queries and some Google Chrome browsing, written in a Google Doc, and filed to my editor via Gmail. Along the way, the company has collected an unfathomable amount of data on billions of people (frequently unbeknownst to them)—but Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is still primarily an advertising business. In 2020, the company made $147 billion in revenue off ads alone, which is roughly 80 percent of its total revenue. Most of the tech company’s products—Maps, Gmail—are Trojan horses for a gargantuan personalized-advertising business, and Search is the one that started it all. It is the modern template for what the technology critic Shoshana Zuboff termed “surveillance capitalism.”

The internet has grown exponentially and Google has expanded with it, helping usher in some of the web’s greediest, most extractive tendencies. But scale is not always a blessing for technology products. Are we wringing our hands over nothing, or is Google a victim of its own success, rendering its flagship product—Search—less useful?

You can read the entire article at:

So what you do do to avoid the problems with Google? My advice is to use as your search engine. Perform all your searches with

I have been using as my only search engine for more than a year now and I much prefer it to to Google. I suggest you try it for a few days to see if you like it.

If you don’t care for, you might use StartPage at I used it for a while and I like it. However, I prefer

If you want to experiment some more, you might check out How to Remove Google From Your Life at (I have replaced Google entirely.)

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