Former Google engineer blames internet failures for why search has had a ‘general decline’

Google’s first female engineer said Google has seen an overall decline in the quality of its search results, but brings up the notion that it’s just a window to the web, suggesting it could be the entire internet that’s worse.

Marissa Meyer, who worked at Google from 2009 to 2012, was a guest at a Freakonomics podcast in which he addressed the most significant user complaint: the company choosing advertising over organic results.

Marissa Meyer, who worked at Google from 2009 to 2012, admitted there was a decline, but suggests it could be that the internet is getting worse

He explained that 80% of searches don’t include paid URLs and believes that ads can provide users with exactly what they’re looking for, even more than organic ones.

Google isn’t blind to the decline either, and is supplementing its index of a trillion web pages by showing users curated content, as well as providing text “snippets” directly in the text, eliminating the need to scroll page after page.

More than 80% of Google’s parent company Alphabet’s revenue comes from search engine advertising, and 85% of all online searches are conducted with Google.

Breaking these facts down by number shows why Google is inundated with paid content, but displaying them all at the top is enough to influence user behaviors and earns the company a large amount of money per click.

Mayer was Google’s first female engineer when she joined the company in 1999 and even managed the search engine during her 13 years there.

Prior to his employment, Mayer was struggling to make it to Google.

“The refrain I heard most often from people who knew I was considering working there was, ‘Why does the world need another search engine? There are already a dozen that are pretty good,'” he said during the podcast. .

It wasn’t until Mayer spoke with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin that she became convinced Google was the way of the future. The founders told her that “good enough is not good enough for research”.

And from there, he embarked on his journey with the tech giant.

“When you see the quality of your search results go down, it’s natural to blame Google and say, ‘Why are they worse?’ Mayer said.

“To me, the more interesting and sophisticated thought is if you say, ‘Wait, but Google is just a window to the web. The real question is, why is the web getting worse?’

He gave an example of how ads perform better than organic links, using the idea that someone is trying to buy “Madonna tour tickets.”

Mayer praised Google for its ads, saying they are sometimes better than organic results and that only 80% of searches show ads

Mayer praised Google for its ads, saying they are sometimes better than organic results and that only 80% of searches show ads

Companies that pay to have their link appear high are more likely to have tickets available for purchase.

However, many users expect to see actual search results when looking for the best hotels in New York City or where to open a savings account, which is where the problem comes in.

Google doesn’t display organic search results above a section labeled “People Also Ask,” which is the “solution” mentioned by Mayer that provides users with a snippet, so they don’t leave the search engine.

“I think Google is more reluctant to send users to the web,” Mayer told Freakonomics.

‘And to me that indicates a natural tension where they’re like, ‘wait, we see the web is sometimes not a great experience for our researchers to continue on. We keep them on our page.’

Advertisements weren’t always the Google way.

The company hasn’t always shown them because it feared they would degrade the user experience. However, Mayer and other innovators at Google devised an experiment to test the idea.

In 2000, the team ran a trial that showed ads to 99% of users and 1% didn’t see them.

The results showed that people who saw the ads did 3% more searches than those who didn’t.

“So basically there was a noticeable difference over a long period of time where people liked Google search results more and did more searches when they had ads than when they didn’t, which I thought was really good,” Meyer said.

The team shut down the experiment but continued to broadcast ads.


For the past 24 years, the Silicon Valley giant has put the phrase “Don’t be evil” front and center in its code of conduct to show that it wants Googlers to strive to do the right thing.

“Don’t be mean” was first added to the company’s code of business conduct in 2000 and has been heavily touted by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin over the years.

The company has dedicated several paragraphs to the phrase in its code of conduct.

But that changed as part of a code update last month that downgraded “Don’t be evil” to a single sentence at the bottom of the document.

Here are the original paragraphs explaining Google’s “Don’t be evil” principle:

“Do not be naughty.” Googlers generally apply these words to how we serve our users. But ‘Don’t be evil’ is much more. Yes, it’s about providing our users with unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and offering them the best possible products and services. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally: following the law, acting honorably, and treating colleagues with courtesy and respect.

The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we practice “Don’t be mean.” It is based on the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct. We’ve set the bar so high for practical as well as ambitious reasons: our commitment to the highest standards helps us hire great people, build great products, and attract loyal users. Trust and mutual respect between employees and users are the foundation of our success and are something we must earn every day.

So please read the Code and follow its spirit and letter, always remembering that each of us has a personal responsibility to incorporate and encourage other Googlers to incorporate the principles of the Code into our work. And if you have a question or think one of your fellow Googlers or the company as a whole might not live up to our commitment, don’t remain silent. We want – and need – to hear from you.