Google Search is not dead


Last week my colleague Sarah asked the question of whether Is Google Search Dead?

The question is especially pertinent after Google’s controversial move to find more high quality sites which seems to have inadvertently impacted legitimate sites like Cult of Mac. The Guardian’s excellent post reveals many other companies that have impacted by this change, literally falling off the Google search map.

So, is Google Search dead?

For me the answer to the question “is Google Search dead” is an emphatic “no”. Google search and Twitter perform fundamentally different roles, but used well they are complimentary.

When I first joined Caplin as a developer 12 years ago we were often implementing functionality within the browser that no one else appeared to be doing, at least according to the Google search results we saw back then. This made things very challenging as we had to write all the code ourselves, often treating the browser as a black box. Since then HTML and JavaScript has grown massively in popularity, resulting in thousands of great resources being distributed across the web. The challenge now is to keep up with the wealth of information that improves on a daily basis to ensure that we don’t write code or try to solve a problem that someone else already has.

Twitter provides an awesome stream of information that has become a vital input to my working life. A few years ago it was difficult for me to keep up with all the new improvements and changes within web development. I could read a few blogs and even subscribe to their RSS feeds, but finding the best blogs was time consuming and something I have never satisfactorily resolved.

Twitter has made keeping up to date with technology incredibly easy, the information automatically routes through to me, although it did take the best part of a year to hone in on the most suitable people to follow. My current list is certainly going to change over time, but I feel that I am now forearmed with knowledge about the latest techniques, libraries and such like for web development. Ultimately Twitter is great about keeping me informed about recent developments and enlightening me as to what I didn’t know.

Google search on the other hand remains my primary way of answering a question that I need to know now. Sure, I can ask a question via Twitter but this is going to take several orders of magnitude longer than Google to provide a response, assuming that I get a response at all. The limit of 144 characters can also make it tricky to ask questions with sufficient context.

Complementary Technologies

Together I find that Twitter and Google search complement each other very well. The majority of the time Twitter informs me of new developments that might solve a problem I don’t yet have. It plants the seed that if I encounter a particular type of issue there is a solution. At a later stage when I run into that issue, I often turn to Google search to track down the precise library or details that I need.

As an aside, I am keeping my eye on the progress of Quora and similar like services because they are closing the gap between traditional searches and social media. Perhaps this will be the next evolution of the web as it adapts to meet the needs of its users, eliminating the need for those users to patch disparate services together to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

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