3/18/2006

Search Engines Don’t Know What They Are

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 6:31 pm

Today I’ve decided to conduct a simple experiment. I wanted to know if search engines know what they are. This is not a scientific experiment but the results I got where very interesting.

To find if search engines know what they are I simply typed the phrase “search engine? in the leading search engines, which maintain their own index and running their own web crawler (No Meta search engines where tested). I expected that they will list the leading search engines on the first result page, but the results where surprising.

Starting with the leading search engine Google: the query “search engine? resulted with searchenginewatch.com as the first result follows by AltaVista, DogPile, Lycos, WebCrawler, Excite and other meta search engines, but no where on the first page I could find the leading search engines like Google itself, MSN, Yahoo and ASK. These leading search engine where only on the second page.

Next I tried MSN search and got even worse results. MSN search did not list a single search engine on the first page. The only search engine it listed was search.com which is a meta search engine. Only on the second page MSN listed itself as a search engine, but no other leading search engines could be found. Yahoo was listed only on the fifth page and there it wasn’t even Yahoo’s web search, but the Creative common search. Google could be found only on the sixth page and again MSN did not link to the search page but to Google Information for Webmasters page. (Running the query on the new search.live.com got the same results).

After the disappointing results from the previous two, I expected to get similar results from ask.com. Running the query “search engine? on ask.com I was presently surprised. Ask.com listed most of the leading search engines on the first page. Starting with ask.com itself (how surprising), followed by Google and Lycos. Yahoo was listed last on the page. However MSN search was nowhere to be found on the first 10 pages.

Yahoo also did a pretty good job. Running the same query Yahoo! resulted with itself as the first result, followed by Google, AltaVista, DogPile and HotBot. MSN, ASK and AOL where listed on the second page, hence the best results relevant to my query.

This was very surprising experiment. I expected that at least one of the leading search engines will list Google, Yahoo, MSN and ASK on the first page, but none prevailed. Google was very disappointing; I expected more from the leading search engine, not to speak of MSN which say they have improved their search engine and claim they are better than Google. MSN got the worst results of them all.

On the other hand ASK was very good and the most relevant of all was Yahoo! which produced the best results relevant to my query, all the hard work Yahoo is putting recently improving their search engine is starting to show, and they are definitely a major player that Google has to watch for when it comes to relevant results.

I know this is just one query and this is by far not an indication of the relevancy of a search engine, but hey, I expected search engines to know about themselves.



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2 Responses to “Search Engines Don’t Know What They Are”

  1. dirtyboy Says:

    Hmm…I did the same thing really quickly and found the major search engines on the first page. *shrugz*… msn had google as their first result which is a little surprising since Balmer hates google. Are you sure you didn’t type “search engines”?

  2. Aviran Mordo Says:

    If you look at the date you’ll notice that it is from last year, since this post they got better ;)

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