In early April, software engineer Dmitri Kyle Brereton published a blog post that struck a nerve: The title of the post is “Google Search Is Dying.” This piece generated a lot of arguments, and many users have become so dissatisfied with its search results. They now end their searches with “Reddit,” turning Google Search into a more powerful search engine for Reddit and its community.
At this point, it has become a bit of a cliche that if you want to avoid a page full of advertising and articles that appear to be AI-generated SEO hacks, you must add “Reddit” to your search. The Brave browser even basically built this feature into its search page earlier this year.
Google has gotten the message that what people want is to make the information needed easier to find. The search engine giant noticed people appending Reddit and has been exploring new ways to make it happen.
Google Search product manager Lauren Clark and Google News product manager Itamar Snir said, “We’ve heard from you that you want to see more relevant content in search, so we’ve been working to make it happen.”
The giant search engine may be trying to reinvent the way we search in the future and expand access to its impressive multi-search feature. Google is launching a feature called “Discussions and forums” today to expand its search options.
This tool will include search results from discussion forums like Reddit, Quora, and Edmunds.com in response to “searches that might benefit from diverse personal experiences.” This feature is one of Google’s most exciting announcements.
How the “Discussions and forums” feature works
The idea behind it is simple. Whenever you do a Google search on something that the engine thinks could be an open-ended question, the feature will pop up a box full of results from a variety of popular forums and online discussions across the internet in line with other Google Search results. An example is a search for the “best car for a growing family.” It will generate standard web links plus links to forum posts that include advice from people, such as their experiences with minivans transporting several children.
Google will be rolling out the discussions and forums in the US today for English searches and “may update it in the future as we learn what’s most useful for people.”
“Forums can be a useful place to find first-hand advice and to learn from people who have experience with something you’re interested in,” Lauren wrote in a blog post.
According to Brereton, Google Search has historically been poor at answering more open-ended questions whose answers tend to be diverse, like which laptop is the best on the market.
Beyond those commonly stated in an open-ended manner, it is unknown which specific queries will initiate “Discussion and forums.” Google says it will track how the function is used over time and may adjust it in the future based on user feedback.
Personally, it is nice to hear this reasoning. There are plenty of searches where you are not looking for a definitive answer but a range of opinions. While I frequently include “Reddit” in my searches, it would be wonderful to have such results alongside articles from qualified reviewers.
“Discussions and forums will help you find more perspectives, giving you more context and options during your search,” Snir and Clark continued.
“These new features will broaden your search scope; it will allow you to make a more informed decision plus get a better understanding of global affairs.” the company said.
You may have to scroll down to find the discussion and forums box
It is always possible that you will have to scroll a little bit to find the discussions and forums box. Google’s illustration leaves a space open for advertisements or sponsored results. But it feels like there is a path back to some of the simplicity it had years ago when top results still included un-optimized web pages and forums just because they coincide with your search.
Before those things were replaced by social media and Reddit as a main source of information, SEO-optimized spam text meant every recipe had to begin with a 1,000-word essay and back story.
Is Google indirectly admitting to defeat with the new feature?
Depending on how you look at it, “Discussions and forums” — which cannot be switched off — is either an admission of defeat on Google’s part or a natural progression for Google Search. By formalizing a practice that is becoming widespread, as Brereton alleged, Google is tacitly acknowledging that web-based search results — the product on which it built its ad empire — are not adequately answering users’ questions. Conversely, some within Google perceive any use of its search engine over alternatives, like Reddit’s built-in search, as a win.
Any benefit to Google?
If “Discussions and forums” function as promised, Google stands to gain from retention by gathering more information about users and the searches they conduct while providing better, if different, results. In the future, toxicity on the forums where it originates could become an issue. But it’s obvious Google thinks the work is worthwhile.