Search Engine Shootout: Google Vs. Yahoo

2006-08-08 12:28 - Web

A short while back, I started to wonder if I really "like" Google anymore. Each day, it seemed, they did more underhanded things, and became less trustworthy and impressive. So, I decided, I would do my best to evaluate alternative search engine choices. I decided to give Yahoo Search a spin.

I started using Yahoo primarily, and frequently checking their results against those that Google provided me at the same time. For a fair number of the cases, I was searching for something specific enough that they both gave me "the link I wanted" in spot number one. I put that in quotes because sometimes there isn't one "the link" but rather, the result I found satisfied me or answered the question, so it was what I wanted. I began to record the "both number one" queries less often. When I did, though, the search terms that brought back both results in the top slot were:

Of course, the more interesting stuff happens when I was searching for something harder to find. This is where the search engine reveals its true muster. Who came out ahead? Read on to find out.

The Format

First, a quick view into how I recorded my results:

0(#)
What I was looking for was right on the search page, in the summary of the link number indicated.
#
A bare number means which link contained what I was looking for.
#+
A "number plus" is which link had a link to what I was looking for, assuming nothing had it directly.
#?
A "number question" means this link might have been what I was looking for, but I wasn't really sure.
-
A dash means I couldn't find it in the first page of results.

The Data

Search PhraseYahooGoogle
alternate side parking--
what is alternate side parking7?-
apache satisfy45 1
redhat ethernet alias45 2
gentoo on cygwin22
the treasure state00
sake proof0(4)0(1)
gesturebank-1
intel 8651 32
synergy21
secunia wordpress1+1+
gentoo xorg block--
gentoo xorg block 6.9 7.0-1+
bookmarklet google translate42
sugar dissolve water volume3-
mattress size21

The Exceptions

And there were some special footnotes:

  1. But it was the japanese version!
  2. It was the wrong answer, but the only one on the first page; I would have used it!
  3. Same as Google had at 2, but Yahoo had a broken link. (META redirect)

The Conclusion

Over the few weeks that I used Yahoo as my primary search engine, I found myself switching back to Google for a quick definition or a unit conversion because they're handy features to have at your fingertips. Yahoo's down by one.

There were plenty of times that they both showed me just what I wanted, right at the top of the list. Those were of course the easy cases, where sometimes I didn't even need a search engine, I was just lazy. In some cases, like the "sugar" query near the bottom, Yahoo clearly gave me a better result. Other times, like "gesturebank" and that pesky problem upgrading to XOrg 7 in gentoo, Google did much better. It seems that the quality of results came out about even. But perhaps, the lesson is to check another engine if you have trouble the first time.

So, the result is that I'm back to using Google again. When it was better, it was clearly much better. When considering the extra tools that Google provides, I couldn't help but switch back.

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