Exploring the Search Engine Path Less Traveled
The vast majority of internet users will use a search engine
occasionally, if not frequently. Search engines are routinely
included in browsers, no matter if you use Firefox, Internet
Explorer, Safari, Opera, or Netscape, with the intent of saving
the user time.
It may seem odd to talk about saving time on the internet.
Thinking back to 15 years ago, the internet was just starting to
burst into mainstream America. The speed and reach of the
internet was mind-boggling at that time. Now we've come so far
with the technology that we actually find ourselves wanting
better and faster results.
As is true with nearly all technology, the internet has evolved
to be something much different than it was 5, 10, and certainly
15 years ago. But have internet users evolved in the way they use
We know that humans are creatures of habit. Most of us like to do
what we're familiar with, see who we already know we get along
with, and go places we already know we like. I think it's fair
to say that the same can be applied to our internet habits.
New programs, applications, and websites are constantly being
created and marketed to users. The ones that get a lot of media
attention have a good chance of getting users to at least test
them out, even if it's just on a trial basis.
However, there are other sites on the internet that have been
around but aren't getting the attention they deserve. Let's go
back to search engines. Most people are familiar with the "Big
Three" of engines - Yahoo, MSN, and Google. If you've paid
attention to web trends over the years, you know that each has
had their heyday, with Google probably receiving the most
attention in recent years.
This is a good illustration of the fact that what is popular one
year on the web may be at the bottom of the list the next year.
Does anyone remember when www.webcrawler.com or
www.excite.com were touted as the destination search
engine? It's all a part of the natural evolution and progression
of search engines.
Another evolution of the search engine is the creation of the
meta search engine. Meta search engines are similar, in that you
type in a term or phrase to be searched. The meta search engine
then gathers results from several different search engines,
compiles them, and presents them in its own search results page.
The results from a meta search engine will vary, depending on
which other engines the meta engine is pulling from.
www.Dogpile.com, for instance, pulls results from Google,
Yahoo!, MSN, www.Ask.com, www.About.com,
www.MIVA.com, www.LookSmart.com, and others. This
quickly accomplishes what would take a user much more time to
open all those browser windows and type in the same search term
over and over again.
However, Dogpile does receive criticism for its compiled search
results page. The sponsored results are mixed in with the
"real" results, which can be confusing if you're not paying
attention. It's also hard to believe that the search results are
in any particular order of relevance when broken up with those
Another search engine, www.Widow.com, uses a tried and
tested algorithm to compile its results and then order them in
relevance, without sponsored results. When doing a side-by-side
comparison of the five top search engines (Yahoo, MSN, Google,
AOL, and Fastsearch), you'll see that Widow.com comes up with
not only the most highly ranked results, but some very useful
links that the other engines didn't pull.
To illustrate my point, I looked at how the different search
engines handle a specific search word. If we take a term that has
been in the news a lot lately, "foreclosure", and type that in
to different search engines, we'll see different results.
Not surprisingly, Fastsearch had no results on "foreclosure."
Though it is one of the top search engines, its focus is on
business and information technology. So it's really not going to
be relevant for anything beyond those topics.
All of the other search engines (five of them!) had one or more
sponsored results at the top of the page. Dogpile.com, as I
previously warned you, had the most sponsored ads - an astounding
10 sponsored ads on the first results page. Plus, they're all
mixed in with the other results, with just a note at the bottom
to let you know it's an ad or otherwise paid for result.
The only search engine that returned no sponsored results or ads
was Widow.com. It sorted through the results, performed its
algorithm magic, and produced variety and depth in its results
page. Better yet, Widow has a nifty search term bar on the left
hand side that allows you to pull up search results for related
terms. Talk about saving time and energy!
Of course, the main reason search engines were developed was
because the internet is so expansive. No human can search the
entire web on their own, hoping to stumble upon the answers and
information they're seeking. Search engines are tools to help
users find pertinent information in a timely manner.
Taking a traditional approach to search engines is fine if you
have the time, the motivation, and the desire. Sometimes the best
drives are the ones where you only have a vague destination,
right? So I suppose the same can be true of using one of the top
five engines we've mentioned.
But sometimes, thinking outside of the box, can not only inspire
new ways of thinking, but can help push you or your research in a
different, better direction. The most efficient way to do that is
to utilize a meta search engine. Try stepping outside of your
usual search strategies and see for yourself why it "is"
sometimes greener on the other side of the fence. There's a
whole wide world (web) to discover and explore!
Trey Pennewell is a ghost writer, who regularly writes
articles for clients of: www.thephantomwriters.com
Trey understands that the secret to successful article
marketing campaigns is to write articles that publishers
want to publish and readers want to read. We hope you
enjoyed this article today.