Web search relevance is not quality

In an interview published on the company blog, Google's Public Liaison for Search Danny Sullivan said:

Over the last seven years, we’ve decreased the number of irrelevant results by over 50%.

As a Google Search user, this contrasts with how helpful search results are to me. In most cases, the top results are ads-filled pages with shallow content heavily optimized by SEO farms.

How can Sullivan's data be reconciled with my subjective experience of unsatisfactory search results?

One way to look at this is Google focuses on relevance. SEO-optimized pages are certainly relevant, in that they match my search queries. But, to me, that content has low quality and is a waste of time.

Google is improving relevance, not quality.


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