And thankfully yes…..
Search space was almost becoming boring. Almost everybody used Google and despite significant innovations by Yahoo ( I do like Glue pages ), search market was like the family soap operas.
Let me divide search engine evaluation into various areas and place where different players are.
Search is a big beast now. Billions of pages changing at an alarming pace and billions of queries happening all over the world. To make the marriage between both is not a task for the faint hearted and the marriage has to made in split second. Infrastructure is about crawling all the pages and also providing index updates in real time. Since users are spread across all parts of the world infrastructure needs to be distributed and multi layered.
Google – best in breed. Use large farms of commodity hardware. They are amazingly fast in crawl. When we launched our site Google crawlers were at our gate in no time.
Yahoo – Pretty much the same as Google in terms of hardware. I do see a slackin their crawl speed. They do keep a backlog.
Bing – Dunno. One of the guy in my office said that Bing is so fast that it feels as if it is running on Linux. Not sure if my friends out there will think of this as a complement.
Some people did think that Orkut and Myspace had good UIs till Facebook came along. You can’t fight with the user. You just have to respect him/her.
Google – familiarity breeds contempt. All of us have been so used to it that now you are a little bit bored ( mid life crisis kicking in ).
Yahoo – Did some interesting innovations recently in terms of glue pages. Glue pages brought the idea of different type of content together so that you can use search as a decision making tool ( although Microsoft is marketing Bing this way )
Bing – The UI is a little bit Googlish but few nifty additions. Previews – they really extract the relevant info well. In page – options do make life easier. The biggest surprise in the UI is speed. It is amazingly fast. Much much better then Google and Yahoo. I guess they should borrow some things from Yahoo glue and they will rock more.
Query Interpretation and Suggestion
If the world had a single language and a single way of expressing our needs, so many of us would be out of jobs. In the search space you can never tell the user that the query is wrong. You need to prompt the user to input the right thing or make assumptions and answer him.
Google – come on they got to be best. The query interpretation improves as you get more queries. Google has great minds working to derive knowledge from their query stream. The results show.
Yahoo – Not as good as Google but OK.
Bing – too early to comment but things work out here.
The holy grail of search lies here. All the back end algorithms which work so hard to make the marriage happen between the content and the intent.
Google – obviously much ahead
Yahoo – a worthy second
Bing – looks pretty good from what i see
No point in having a great product but not getting enough users to use it. Google and Yahoo and their search bars and distribution deals with browsers has ensured that people can use them with significantly less friction.
Google – has become so omnipresent that they don’t need it anymore. Integrations with browsers and toolbars obviously helps.
Yahoo – Has all the distribution but people still do not use them much.
Bing – I bet Microsoft will pull out some tricks here. They have the muscle and brains to distribute it in innovative ways. I am waiting to see action here.
Now let us hit the road…. some real life queries
“where to find branded jeans in bangalore” – Bing wins here. Google is confused in branded and brand new.
“opensource testing tools” – all of them look fine
“bal krishn birla” – Little bit of ego surfing. I like Bing here as it brings up my FB profile
“iit kanpur hall 2 photos” – none of them works. Good that none of them gave me Hall 3 photos otherwise, I would have filed a law suit against all of them.
“dolo 650” – all of them are bad
“#pj on twitter”- all you guys missed the trick. Run and fix. I am looking for the trend not Paul J
“obama speech in cairo” – Google and Yahoo look better then Bing here… Bing’s second link is an article before the speech.
“who invented the light bulb”- Bing gives direct answer
“iit kanpur galaxy” – Love you Bing. In IITK Galaxy is not related to astronomy but culture.
OK… Enogh now. Can’t keep searching everything on 3 search engines forever.