Call it part of my personality, but I like to be thorough. I also like to have proof of some statement, even if proof is difficult or impossible to come by. When scientific double blind studies are not possible, I don’t mind having a sliding scale of proof where a little proof is better than no proof at all. I dislike old wive’s tales and relish when Mythbusters does their show. A case in fact is my reliance on Google as a search engine. Of course all my knowledgeable friends rely on Google as much as I do, and it’s the best search engine that I’ve used, but it’s far from perfect. Today I wondered if Yahoo’s search engine, the one I used to use long ago, had improved enough to rival Google. The skinny is that Google still is the best for my research, but don’t write off Yahoo either.
Google does a lot of things right. I type in my search criteria and the filters do their job to weed out the irrelevant. While webmasters, search engine optimizing software and other clever people try to manipulate Google’s results, in general Google does a great job of thwarting their efforts. Good for Google.Their efforts save me time.
I appreciate this because when I seek knowledge from the Internet, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are individual web sites, blogs, forums, feeds of all kinds, news, TV as well as commercial sites. When I seek knowledge I rarely want to buy anything. Unfortunately commercial sites have lots of advertising money and can devote lots of it in inundating search engines to spew out their web pages as search results. I don’t want their wares. If I could get a tick box to uncheck commercial sites that are selling me stuff I would certainly appreciate it. This would make my searches faster and more efficient. Unfortunately Google does not do this, and neither does any other search engine.
Google’s filters are really good, returning to me mostly relevant results. They are not perfect, but not bad. Yahoo is not so great, having more noise than signal, and forcing you to wade through more irrelevant pages. While Google is good, it also does not index everything, which surprised me. My searches on Yahoo revealed some interesting and very relevant search results that I did not find on Google. I now feel that for internet research you can start with Google, but don’t exclude Yahoo.
Google is also much faster than Yahoo at returning results. This makes a huge difference when you’re looking at 20-50 pages of results. I base my conclusions on personal experience. Using a powerful tool as your only tool is efficient, but once in a while look around because someone may have made or improved on their tool. In this case Google has the better mousetrap.