Search Engine Spring Cleaning

So, you want to find information using a search engine. Unfortunately, as a consequence of Penguins, Pandas, and a layout that doesn’t necessarily provide the smoothest navigation, there’s a chance what you’re looking for won’t be found on mega search engine Google. Following the de-indexing of blogs and the crack down on “black hat practices” even those St. Louis SEO companies that practice “white hat” strategies have suffered.

In the wake of the Google overhaul it’s time to do a little Spring-cleaning of our search engine preferences. The following are the top search engines that are most likely to find what you’re looking for: Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. You might notice that Yahoo doesn’t quite make the cut. Yahoo has become the MySpace of search engines. It worked for a while and built a well-known brand, but it has since been overtaken by bigger, better engines with more flash to attract users.

A quick evaluation of the things that matter to search users reveals which search engines are more likely to continue to experience success and which are not.

What to Evaluate:

Percentage of Ads:

Personally, the number of ads on search pages can turn me off to the content. I want results that deserve to be at the top of the page, not necessarily those that have paid to be there. (+/- 1)

Availability of Related Terms:

Suggestions for related terms are helpful for finding additional content related to a topic. (+/- 1)

Tracked Search:

According to the Pew Internet & American Life survey in February 2012, 65% of those polled would not approve of having their searches tracked and used for personalized results. (+/- 1)

Collected Information:

73% of those surveyed believe that collecting information and using it to generate search results is not acceptable because it may limit results. (+/- 1)

Targeted Ads:

The use of targeted advertising is not okay with 68% of users because it is perceived as an invasion of privacy. (+/- 1)

User Experience:

The over-all usability of a search engine to find results quickly is the most important element to users. (+/- 5)

 

The Old Names:

Google:

Category: Summary: Score:
Percentage of Ads: In a search for “steak restaurants in st. louis” 50% of the results above the fold on Page 1 are advertisements.

-1

Related Terms: Google offers no related terms above the fold. There are, however, related terms listed at the bottom of the page.

+1

Tracked Search: Google automatically tracks what users are searching for. Unless you utilize some form of in-private browsing (and let’s face it, who really uses those settings?) your information is being kept.

-1

Collected Information: See above.

-1

Targeted Ads: Google’s use of paid advertising means that the ads you see are related to the search term you have entered. While this doesn’t mean that your Google search preferences wont be used to target you elsewhere on the web, on Google itself you are unlikely to notice.

+1

User Experience: Overall, the user experience on Google is difficult to analyze. It depends, primarily, upon the individual. While I don’t personally like a combination of maps, business listings, websites, and reviews presented on a single page with different formats others might find it the best way to navigate.

+3

Total Score:

+2

Bing:

Category: Summary: Score:
Percentage of Ads: Above the fold only 45% of the results are advertisements.

+1

Related Terms: Bing provides 8 related searches on the first page.

+1

Tracked Search: Bing, like Google, tracks the searches that its users enter, as well as searches that occur across the web.

-1

Collected Information: Bing uses the information it collects to design the rankings for its results, however this is limited by its lack of a social platform such as Google+ that targets searches to users rather than IPs.

-1

Targeted Ads: If you’re logged in to Facebook or another platform connected to Bing its likely that you will see your search terms recycled in ads, however this will not be obvious on Bing itself.

+1

User Experience: Overall, the results presented by Bing are easier to navigate than those presented by it’s competitor, Google. The results followed a uniform layout broken up only by the addition of a small local results section. Additionally, websites including comparative reviews were listed higher than the restaurants themselves.

+5

Total Score:

+6

Up and Coming:

DuckDuckGo:

Category: Summary: Score:
Percentage of Ads: Above the fold only 12% of the results were advertisements or paid results (1 out of 8).

+1

Related Terms: DuckDuckGo does not offer any related terms.

-1

Tracked Search: DuckDuckGo’s primary marketing push is that it, unlike Google and Bing, does not track search information. It’s privacy policy outlines its commitment to keeping the privacy of users protected.

+1

Collected Information: See above.

+1

Targeted Ads: Because users’ information is not tracked or collected it cannot be used to target advertising.

+1

User Experience: DuckDuckGo does not incorporate pages. The results appear on a single page that lengthens as users continue to scroll for more results. It’s a little difficult, using this system, to remember exactly where you are over the course of a search. DDG does not incorporate maps or business listings. The listings themselves rank reviews and third party sites higher than the actual St. Louis restaurants, however, so users are likely to find what they are looking for.

+2

Total Score:

+5


Upon evaluating the aspects above, I have decided I’m treating myself to a steak dinner.

Just kidding. Actually, it appears that the more effective search engines are not, in fact, owned by Google. It remains to be seen whether the competitors can over come the incredible branding of the search giant and steal the glory of the most used search engine. The most daunting challenge for Bing, DuckDuckGo, and others will be the simple fact of conversion from a site that has monopolized the industry since 1998.

Leave a Reply