September 27, 2013 - Phil Hodgen

Cracks appear in Google’s armor

The Mighty Google might be showing signs of vulnerability in its key area of strength: the quality of search results.

Up to now, the easiest way for me to find a section of the Internal Revenue Code has been to hit Google. ((Note: I pay for Lexis. I pay for BNA portfolios. They charge metric crap-tons of money for their service. The fact that I bail out and use Google to find stuff outside their services should tell them something.))

My search up to now has been as follows:

26 usc 6501

This would reliably return Section 6501 of the Internal Revenue Code at Cornell University’s wonderful resource as the first result.

Google has a new search algorithm.

Today I searched for Section 6501 using the same search query:

26 usc 6501

It returned this:


Google correctly found Cornell’s website but assumed that I wanted Title 7 of the United States Code instead of Title 26. The other sites with the United States Code are acceptable, I guess, if you like them. Forbes at the fifth result? And going down the list further, the results get a bit messier.

I’m not sure what this means, except that I will be using DuckDuckGo even more than I do now. It correctly and reliably points me to Title 26, Section 6501 of the United States Code for the top 6 results. Not until the 7th result does it get confused — sending me to Title 15 rather than Title 26.