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(Fri May 29 14:55:14 2009)

There's a lot of news (and hype) out there around the new Microsoft search,

There's a lot of news (and hype) out there around the new Microsoft search, "Bing." I've read all sorts of articles about how it is and/or isn't a "Google killer." It seems that MS is trying to get that "perfect result," which will magically pull consumers away from Google. Honestly, as a consumer, I don't care about a "perfect result." Now, if by some dark magic I can get a perfect result every time, that would be awesome, but there really is no logical way to do that, without severely encroaching on the privacy of the consumer. There will always be searches like "where is closest good food in springville." Unless you know which Springville the user is asking about, and what qualifies as good food (and what qualifies as close, for that matter), there is no way to give a perfect result.

Now, If I went to the trouble to type in a search, I'm going to try two or three searches at least, taking what results I got and using those to narrow or shift my focus. Chances are, unless I knew exactly what I was looking for, I'm not going to stop with the first search.

Anyway, here's my take on the "big three" search engines.
On first sight, the results from each website look oddly familiar. If I'm remembering my ancient search history correctly, Google started with the blue link/black text/green website theme from almost the beginning, while the others picked it up later. Even so, it's weird how similar the color schemes are.

The results, however, are very different. If you are looking for something general (or something specific with general information), you don't want "perfect matches." You want close matches, "you might want this" or "you may mean that" - stuff I call "side information." It's not actually relevant, usually, but it can quickly guide you to a better search.

Anyway, after a few searches ("cats," "asian food salina, ks," "browser wars"), I confirmed my initial thoughts.
If you're look for anything related to cats in the news, Yahoo isn't the place to look. There may be news results in there, but they look like every other link. Google and Live both collect news stories and display them as a group.
Google has indented "also-from-this-website" links, as well as a "more from this site" link. Yahoo, at least, has the first, while Bing has neither.
If I mistype a phrase, Google and Yahoo suggest an alternative (with the option to search for that specifically), while Bing just assumes you were wrong and doesn't say a word about it.
The Bing and Yahoo "search help bar" are terribly annoying. Bing is a little better. Google's search bar has a dropdown list that could very well be part of the browser - not that I use it.
And speaking of not using a feature, Yahoo's options menu is terrible. There are dozens of settings, and the most useful settings are buried at the very bottom of the list. At least Bing manages to keep a clean settings interface.

If you bother to look at the HTML code of the pages, you can see that Google is built for speed. Bing is a little heavier, but Yahoo is, at best, huge. There is way too much javascript on that page. To sum it up, Google is clean, presents a good selection of search results with lots of hints to narrow your search; Bing does a good job imitating, but lacks a few critical areas (like "more results from this site," and "Did you mean"), and Yahoo... well, it used to be a good search engine. No so any more, I'm afraid... that "where is closest good food in springville" search? The first link in Google was a list of restaurants in cities named Springville - in the Yahoo yellow pages. Yahoo didn't even find that.

The problem with other search engines is that they try too hard. People don't want "the perfect search," they want a "good idea, oh hey, that's more of what I want, let me try that one." Sure, there are a few not-so-computer-savvy people out there that would rather "the Internets" tell them the answer ("What is my Great Aunt Marge's favorite color?"), but for real searches?

Google it.

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This blag is tagged: Bing, Google, Yahoo, All