8/14/2011

Search Engines

A recent study stated that Bing and Yahoo resulted more in a hit to a website; compared to Google. Which basically states that allegedly Bing and Yahoo (which is powered by Bing) are more accurate than Google.

But is it true or a load of old Google-bashing bullshit? After all the reports on the study do state that Google accounts for 66% of all searches with Yahoo only getting a modest 14% and Bing also gets a modest 13%.

So does that say that the majority of people using search engines are fucked in the head for sticking with Google compared to Yahoo or Bing. Basically picking popularity over accuracy? No. It says the study knows very little about the people using search engines.

So on to a test between Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

When testing the accuracy of a search engine it is always best to actually know what you are looking for. So, in theory, if you was looking for the official website concerning the upcoming Michael Jackson Tribute Concert you would enter that in as the search query and expect to see the web page for it in the first 2 or 3 results.

With all 3 search engines using the standard settings (which means none - just going to the search engine without any cache or cookies or logging in) and without any form of plug-in ad-blocker running; searching for Michael Jackson Tribute Concert gave the following results:

Google - The official website turned up on page 3 of the results.
Yahoo - The official website turned up on page 4 of the results.
Bing - The official website turned up on page 4 of the results.

In theory that would mean that Google got you there one page earlier than the other two search engines. But that is just one query about a popular search term. What if the search was a little more obscure; in the fact you were actually searching for an answer rather than an actual website. So searching the question When is the Michael Jackson Tribute in Wales? could give a whole different view as it doesn't matter which website tells you the date you are looking for as long as it is reputable enough.

Google - Page 1, about 3/4 down, with the date October 8, 2011.
Yahoo - Page 1, 4th result, with the date October 8, 2011.
Bing - Page 1, 5th result, with the date October 8, 2011.

So, although the first search made it look that Google was superior the second actually put Google behind Yahoo and Bing. So what does it mean? absolutely nothing. On any given search one search engine may outdo the others and then on your next search be completely shit. How does that help the average person using search engines? It doesn't really. Search engines are notorious for getting things wrong.

As an example of search engines getting things completely wrong imagine the following scenario: A person who has their search engines all open to every result (meaning Safesearch and the like are all turned off) is doing a project of some sort on culinary delights around the world. They have done England and their fish and chips, Italy and their pasta, France and their cheeses, and they make their way to the United States and are working on the culinary subject of "cream pie" and decide to add a picture. But what do they get?

Google Image Search - The first image is a cream pie. The second image displayed is of an x-rated nature.
Yahoo Image Search - The first 12 images are x-rated with the 13th being a cream pie.
Bing Image Search - The same results as Yahoo which is not surprising as Yahoo is powered by Bing.

One thing to note at this point is that both Yahoo and Bing asked for confirmation that you wanted to turn the "safesearch" feature off before saving the preferences.

There you have it. Search engines perform better at certain things than others. For the 3 searches completed Yahoo and Bing did better at answering a question; but Google succeeded better with phrase and image searching.

So although every now and again studies will appear saying one search engine is better than another; it does all depend on what you are searching for.

There are 5 main search engines all worthy of looking at:

Google - www.google.com
Yahoo - www.yahoo.com
Bing - www.bing.com
Ask - www.ask.com
Dogpile - www.dogpile.com

Just give them all a go and see which is best for your needs. My personal favorites are Google and Duck Duck Go (www.duckduckgo.com). And try to remember that the results you get are not always the fault of the search engines but sometimes the results are messed up because HTML programmers are constantly trying to get higher and higher on the results and using various 'coding tricks' to achieve that goal.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for the info...I like Google :)

MJHDC said...

I use Google the vast majority of the time. But every now and then I like to change things up a bit just to see.

Back in the day www.37.com used to be a brilliant search engine; but now it is too cluttered, too many advert links, and just not as clean as the others are.

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