By now you’ve probably heard about or read the viral post that “Google search is dying.” And that among many things, including increasing ad-load and SEO spam, the search giant’s experience is ever deteriorating. The same people who are frustrated with Google’s results have often suggested that better content can be found on community forums like Reddit.
At Neeva, we too believe that content on community forums is rich, extremely important and has been ignored by traditional search engines for far too long. However, anecdotal evidence aside, we sought to find out just how much better or not that content is when comparing top results on Google.
With help from our friends at Surge AI, we designed a task for their raters to measure how often Reddit content is useful and how it compares to Google. Raters used their most recent search queries, they found the most helpful Reddit thread on the topic and then compared them to the top 3 Google results.
The results were shocking!
For 23% queries, users preferred the most helpful Reddit thread to the first Google result.
For the third Google result, the number was closer to 30%.
50% of the time, Reddit content was as good as the top Google results and nearly 60% as good as the third result.
With results like this you would think Google would incorporate Reddit content into its results, but our data also shows it only makes up around 3-5% of Google's results. Meaning that Reddit is severely under-ranked in Google results. Instead, users see SEO optimized results from content farms. Or even worse, ads. For a wide variety of queries, real organic discussion is much more useful than the typical “top 10…” type results you see rank highly. And with the popularity of Large Language Models (LLMs) like Open AI’s GPT-3, there is worry that LLMs will be used to generate SEO content and further dilute the usefulness of search results.
For example, compare what happens when you look for advice on configuring your next laptop?
Compared to a discussion like the below on Reddit.
We envision Reddit and other user-generated content as pioneering the future of search for what users really want to see. We’re working hard to infuse user-generated content everywhere in Neeva starting with Reddit.