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Cover Image of Cloud Atlas : A Novel by David Mitchell published by Random House Trade Paperbacks
Cover Image of After the Apple: Women in the Bible : Timeless Stories of Love, Lust, and Longing by Naomi Harris Rosenblatt published by Miramax Books
Cover Image of The Koran (Penguin Classics) by N. J. Dawood published by Penguin USA (Paper)
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Technology Corner: Search Engine Wars - Which Is Best?


BBC News Magazine just reported the results of its study of the Big 5 players: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask Jeeves, or A9 and the verdict is...


November 15, 2004
— Tom Geoghegan tested the search engines for BBC Magazine using this strategy:

The test

  • First a search for "raleigh" - chosen as it is a word with several meanings including the bike company, the US city, the expedition charity and the Elizabethan explorer.
  • How fast? Although engines can be slowed down by problems in receiving networks, searches made within minutes can give a comparison.
  • Then how did it look and could it tell us an Alsatian's IQ (reportedly 60 - whether this is true or not is irrelevant). Finally, the simple question - what is the time in Sydney?

The Perameters

  • relavance
  • speed
  • over all look of the page
  • success in answering the obscure fact
  • success in answering the basic question

The verdict

  • Google: got the obscure fact easily, but the basic search could be easier. All results lead to web urls–no direct answers 
  • MSN: failed miserably - teething problems as new kid on the block? Sponsors and ads everywhere–yukky.
  • Yahoo!: "help me" managed to locate the answer, but results were cluttered
  • Ask Jeeves: the three above could take a lesson from the butler, success all around–and gave the time in Sydney! 
  • A9: a good bet for cultural queries, allowed for pictures and access to Amazon's "inside the book".

So the next time you're doing a search for a book or author related querie, keep these results in mind.  The search engine competition is fierce, and one is better than the other for different reasons.





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