Is Google search getting worse? New long-term study by the Webis research group

Is Google search getting worse? You can certainly get the impression. The search engine giant is no longer returning as good results as it did a few years ago. Anyone looking for computer accessories, for example, or wanting to find out about travel destinations, first has to fight their way through lots of search results from commercial blogs, comparison portals and the like to find what they are looking for. This not only affects Google’s search results, but also the search results pages of Bing and DuckDuckGo are drowning in a flood of affiliate portals.

Researchers from the Webis research group, one of our project partners in the Horizon Europe project, have now confirmed what was previously just a feeling. Janek Bevendorff, Matti Wiegmann, Martin Potthast and Benno Stein spent over a year investigating how affiliate content influences search engines. To do this, they observed Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo for a year for 7,392 product review queries. And indeed: according to the study, websites that compare products and link to commercial providers, with their strong SEO orientation, are largely responsible for the deterioration of internet search results.

Janek Bevendorff¹,∗ , Matti Wiegmann²,∗ , Martin Potthast¹³ , and Benno Stein²
Is Google Getting Worse? A Longitudinal Investigation of SEO Spam in Search Engines
In: In Advances in Information Retrieval. 46th European Conference on IR Research (ECIR 2024), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, March 2024. Springer.
¹Leipzig University, ² Bauhaus University Weimar, ³ ScaDS.AI