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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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