Google swiftly becoming useless?

Lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend.

If you do a search for, well, almost anything, half of the first page of results go to such sites as websearch, blowsearch, leapfind- all search engines that attempt to take over your browser, or install spyware, or sieze your homepage…

First, how the heck are they doing this? It was my understanding that Google found pages by crawling over the Internet, documenting pages that contain the then-to-be-searched-for term. The sites that hit the term the closest are then ranked on Google, which ensures that you don’t have to wade through too much crap to get whatever it is you’re searching for. But how can these other search sites do it? Do they just have a billion-some-odd webpages, all listing the various searches people might look for? Or is Google selling these spots to these companies (I would tend to doubt this, as Google’s been a reasonably nice company, and it seems the other search pages could eventually be competition)?

Second, what can we do about it, assuming that what they’re doing is on the up-and-up? Whenever I search for pretty much anything through Google, now, I have to immediately discount half of the first page of hits. I can only imagine this is going to get worse…

It sounds like you have spy/adware on your pc. Have you tried running adaware, or one of its alternatives?

Most likely you have a search engine hijacker messing with your results.

Run Lavasoft Adaware and see if you get better results.

If it’s not that, what are your search terms? Maybe you’re just looking for the sort of things that spammers are typically flogging?

I haven’t noticed any difficulty lately in finding what I’m looking for with Google.

Oh, hi, POTS. :o

Maybe this one isn’t a spyware problem. A lot of popular searches have had their results ruined by sites like this. The way it works is, a company buys a lot of domains, and then links them all together using popular keywords. Google picks up on one, follows the links, and pretty soon the spam site rockets to the top of Google’s search listings.

Can you give an example search, because I’m really not sure what you’re talking about, and I use Google all the time.

It sounds like spyware to me. An easy way to test would be to search for something and list the top few results here, and someone else can tell you if that’s what they get.

Maybe I just don’t do “popular” searches but this has never happened to me. I have to assume that something else other than Google rankings is going on with Lightnin’.

Sounds like adware to me too. There have been a lot of “what’s wrong with google” threads lately.

For what it’s worth, I had the same problem. (In my case, it turned out to be CWS.)

I wrote down the domain name of the number one google search result, and then searched on that name and the word “spyware” in another search engine. This gave me a link to a site that gives out a program called “CWShredder” which fixed the problem.

I covered this disturbing trend in a pit thread (its way too sunday to exert the enregy required to search for it… button…so…far…away)

I use spybot and adaware daily, and Google is still plagued with spam. It’s still the best engine, but a far cry from its former untainted state.

Why don’t you give us a few example searches, and we can verify how Google works for us. Absent spyware, Google should return the same results for everybody.

Well, it IS happening, and it’s not adware. Like a previous poster said, scummy firms use multiple domains that link to each other to increase Google’s perception of relevance. This is the same principle that allows the humorous “miserable failure” and “weapons of mass destruction” searches to return what they do.

An example is Googling for “badger airbrush parts”. Four of the top twenty results go to different domains but they show the exact same page. At least one of the other results goes to a different one of these linkmalls. God help you if were to try to search for medical side effects of Viagra (though you really ought to be talking to an MD for that, not the Net).

Is Google still useful? Hell yeah. Is the end in sight? Unless Google figures out a way to block this sort of nonsense, yes.

It amazes me how everytime mankind (or Al Gore) invents something cool, some jerk comes along and figures out how to abuse it for his own ends.


*Try this one- search for “google hijack”.

The bottom five hits on the page that comes up are various, presumably competing, search engines. At least on mine.

These are some of the links that come up:
“Search for ‘Google Hijack’ at Netster”
“‘Google Hijack’ can be found at
“Search at for ‘Google Hijack’”

I doubt that I’ve got some adware on my machine… it seems to be clean, and I’m pretty meticulous as far as that sort of thing goes- I run adaware and spybot pretty often, and have various countermeasures in place to make sure adware can’t even get a toehold.*

I wrote that a bit ago, but now I’m not so sure. I’ve done exactly this search on one of my other computers, and those links didn’t come up. I’ve run a freshly-updated Adaware and Spybot, and neither a) found anything, or b) fixed the problem. Now I’m really confused.

If it is some sort of malware, it’s subtle; Google is still extremely usable, and those few links on the first page have been merely annoying.

Here are the hits I get searching for google hijack, on the front page. Is it the same as you? I don’t see anything by Netster, eZanga, or Seek99.

FWIW, I do see what capnfutile is saying about badger airbrush parts, and I really wonder what determines whether a search turns up those kinds of sites - it seems so arbitrary.

For those of you wondering if capnfutile is insane, I’d just like to say that Badger is a type of airbrush. I now return you to your scheduled thread.

Google does not search the net. It searches its database of links.

Please forgive my ignorance, but is there some reason to make that distinction beyond a desire for precision?

And if you had a speed competition between two airbrushers using Badgers, each of which was powered by a small radioisotope power source… :wink:

It is spyware, and based on the results you’re getting, it’s about 99.9 percent likely to be CoolWebSearch, flavours of which spooje links to and seek99 onto the beginning of Google results.

You can download the removal tool (already mentioned by lucwarm) here:

Try here instead: