If you’ve spent a little time on the internet, you probably know the popular web search engines – Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL. Maybe you started using one and have stuck to it or maybe you’ve shifted your loyalties. In this article we shall be take a closer look at web search engines and some of the factors that make them good or bad.
We all know the world’s most popular web search engine – it’s Google! But it is the best?
Firstly, please understand that no web search engine can be perfect – there is just too much information on the web and it’s constantly in flux. There are new web pages and files being added and the old ones being changed or deleted. With our current computing power, it’s very difficult (some would say, impossible) to keep track of everything in this highly dynamic environment.
Secondly, it is not possible (and it would stupid too) to point out the best search engine in the world without providing sufficient reasons. Why? Because the field of web search keeps evolving. For example, Google makes more than 400 changes to their search and indexing algorithm every year… that’s more than 1 per day. View Matt Cutts video on Youtube in which he mentions this point. Search engine companies are just like other businesses – they want to stay ahead of the competition.
Most of you routinely use the Google search engine and consider it the best, but some would disagree and would put their money on Yahoo! or MSN (now Bing). Sometimes it all depends on what you are searching for. Probably a lot many of web surfers have been satisfied with the Google search results and that’s what made the company such a big force to reckon with on the web.
Let me now list some factors that can help us users find the best search engine.
There are a number of factors that can help us in grading web search engines. A few of the important ones I came up with are listed below:
Each search engine maintains a database of the indexed web pages. The size of the database is definitely a factor when considering who shall wear the crown as the best web search engine. Furthermore, the internet is a highly dynamic medium and the database needs to be as current as possible – though we all know no search engine can be perfect and provide a “snapshot of the web”.
The relevancy of the search results is another important factor in determining the best search engine. If results are not pertinent to the query, the search engine has failed! No one wants to use a system that doesn’t work, right?
Additionally the query results need to be displayed in the shortest time possible – the faster the better. So the indexing and searching algorithms that form the heart of the search engine need to be really fast.
If the search engine automatically filters offensive material, it is an added bonus – unless, obviously, you are intentionally looking for such information.
The query results should also be displayed in a manner that is easy to comprehend – even by a 6 year old (I have one and I know).
As far as I am concerned, the number of results a search engine throws up for a certain query is not a major criterion; relevancy is much more important – after all, have you ever checked beyond the 10th results page?
What you see on Google.com or Yahoo.com is simply the search engine interface. This interface needs to load quickly for a user if they want to perform a search.
Also, will physically challenged surfers be able to use the interface with as much ease as others? Or is there a different version available?
And talking of versions, is there one for mobile devices?
In May 2010, Google changed both their home page and the search engine results page (SERP). This was a big move and would have been implemented after a lot many tests and usability analysis. Read Google page changed for details.
The kind of information that is indexed plays a vital role in determining the best search engine. Not all search queries would lead to relevant results on web pages (i.e. textual content on web pages). Maybe there is a better result somewhere on the web but it’s available as a video, audio file or maybe even a scanned document. Is a search engine able to read and index various types of file formats?
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. How about sharing your thoughts on it and telling us which search engine you think is the best in the world.
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