Searching the Internet with Blinders On

Google commands slightly more than 60% of the search engine market in the United States, but have you ever really thought about why you use it as opposed to Yahoo, or Microsoft, or AOL, or a multitude of other choices? Do you find the search results ‘better’? Have you experienced this for yourself or do you simply use it because that’s what others say?

I think I’ve accepted Google as my default search engine a bit too readily. I haven’t performed any testing of search results between the major search engines. Ever since picking up Google about 5 years ago, I haven’t even bothered trying anything else. When I started using Google, it certainly provided better search results than competitors, but since then, they’ve all made significant improvements to their algorithms. Now, 5 years later, I still harbor that same mentality: Google produces more pertinent search results, when it may not at all.

Today, due to a weird technological occurrence, I was unable to access any of the Google sites, and was forced to search the internet using Live Search and Yahoo. To Google’s credit, using a non-Google search engine actually made me feel  uncomfortable. That’s as deep a psychological attachment as I’ve ever seen. However, more importantly, I realized that I’ve been browsing the internet with blinders on. There’s no reason, aside from comfort, that I’ve been using Google exclusively. From this point on, I will make a conscious attempt to perform the same searches in Google, Live, and Yahoo. Hopefully by doing this for a week or two, I’ll get a better feel for the search result quality of each engine.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with using Google, and if through my test Google’s search results prove superior, I will gladly use it. I just don’t want go on searching the internet in ignorance. Anyone care to join me and share their findings?

6 thoughts on “Searching the Internet with Blinders On”

  1. That’s a great idea. I’ve tried Live Search a couple times (literally a couple) over the last while, but I never quite enjoyed the experience, even though I’m probably one of the first to spout the anti-Google rhetoric.

    The major reason I didn’t like it was that the results were not accurate. When searching an acronym that should have revealed a well-known organization, random personal webpages showed up as the first result. It doesn’t take much for me to make a judgment, but I suppose I should give everyone a chance again.

    Live Image Search is a whole ‘nother story though. Their use of AJAX and zooming images just is far too slow.

  2. I’ve used Live Search in the past month for class, I hated it.
    I don’t remember urls well and I don’t store favourites on my Nexus account, so I search ‘uw ace’. Google always points to the right one, msn points to some IST description. After that, it just strengthened my attitude in using google.

  3. It’s interesting that you bring this up, I’ve been experiencing some of the same sentiments. Since I recently got a windows mobile phone I decided to try using the integrated windows live functions. In fact, I oftentimes find live search better than google and I don’t have any problems with the image search contrary to Richard’s comment (though I am on the fastest connection in the country). But hotmail is a whole other story. I miss gmail, it’s a great web application and hotmail doesn’t even come close. I miss the integrated chat and I miss the archive function among others. There is simply something satisfying about cleaning out your email inbox into one giant search-able folder with one click. Live does have some interesting features too though. SkyDrive has better functionality I find than google docs.

    I think it comes down to personal preference and routine though. I doubt there is a very large difference in performance between any of the big ones anymore. Though I will say this: Yahoo died a long time ago…it SUCKS.

  4. The thing with MSN now is that they are offering rewards for using their search engine, this is temporary and it is suppose to increase market share…Untill MSN works out a deal with YHOO to buy just the search division of Yahoo. MS is not even doing this for ad-dollars from advertising as 1/3 is already now outsourced to GOOG, but to gain a larger market share, which will still be below Googles reach, as you said Google has a 60% share.

    Pardon my stock-ticker notations 😛

  5. This experiment is turning out to be much more difficult than I originally expected. Typing a search query into the search bar at the top of my browser is almost second nature. Many times, I’ll realize only after the search is complete that I performed it using Google.

    Still, I have completed a fair share of searched through Yahoo and Live as well. Thus far, I’d have to concede the top spot (for consistency) to Google, Yahoo follows and then Live in last. That’s not to say Yahoo and/or Live can’t produce better results. Google simply produces better results more consistently.

    I’m putting a more conscious effort into this over the next week.

  6. You could always just change which search engine is used in the top-right search field. Or you can add extra search engine bars, one for each engine. Or you could just swap them in and out week-by-week.

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