Researchers don't just "Google it"

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92% of all search engine traffic goes through Google.
Yours probably shouldn’t.

For 20 years, Google has arguably had some of the most relevant search results. But what Google does with your searches now is very different than 20 years ago. It’s no longer organic, your search results are different depending on what Google knows about you and how Google would like to shape your opinion — yes, even when you’re not yet logged in.

If you’re doing research about a diverse of array of things like we Instructional Designers often do, know that Google is not your best bet. They won’t tell you what they’re not telling you or why, so you’re always peering into a highly curated and mysteriously influenced bubble.

This brings up all sorts of issues in terms of privacy and manipulation that I wish more people cared about. But especially for anyone trying to do research, it’s important to note that Google search results do not represent reality. At best they are a targeted subset of reality designed for “reasons” that will never be clear to the person doing the searching.

DuckDuckGo is my default search engine, which mashes up results from a few web crawling services (Bing, Yahoo, etc.) in a less individually influenced way.

Many people prefer StartPage.com, which uses the same Google-indexed results but via proxy and thus cannot be targeted to you individually.

And there are other options if you want more. Whatever you chose, please know that you have a choice — one that may (or may not!) come up as you’re Googling for things.

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