Google’s Digital Dementia

I read a rather depressing post by Bacchus over at ErosBlog the other day.

As if we didn’t have enough problems, there’s a mounting body of evidence that Google now has an attention span somewhat shorter than ten years. After ten years or so, Google forgets things. Or, perhaps, Google just can’t be bothered to index these older web pages, because there’s no money in it.

Bacchus isn’t the first to come across this phenomenon. Tim Bray encountered something similar in 2018, and Marco Fioretti expanded upon Bray’s findings. And a year earlier in 2017, Tony Hirst applied the “dementia” term to it.

Bacchus writes further:

[…] Hirst posits that Google is getting both paranoid (because of SEO and other factors) and forgetful. To Hirst, Google seems rooted in the past, crediting signals of link authority that people are mostly not using these days (publication of links on websites) and not able to properly weight or remember the social media signals that accompany most links modernly. It’s a different problem to be sure from the one that Bray and Fioretti highlighted, but the terminology seems applicable here too.

My observations, from my perspective inside the adult/porn parts of the web, are parallel with Hirst’s. Google’s digital dementia is even more severe with respect to adult URLs, because our #pornocalypse-driven exclusion from so much social media means that our links are automatically absent from so many of Google’s modern page quality signals and ranking algorithms.

Bacchus uses screenshots to show the results of various searches for specific content from his blog from Google, compared to the same searches done in Bing.

I stopped using and relying on Google many years ago, and now use DuckDuckGo for most of my searching online. It seems that I made the right call, but I worry about the long-term implications for the Internet as a whole when Google—and Facebook, Twitter and others—have so much control over what we see and find online.