Posts Tagged ‘search engine’

Cuil: Epic Search Fail

July 28, 2008

Apologies for the tired old fail blog meme, but it seems particularly appropriate for the results I got from Cuil (pronounced “Cool” – yes, really) just now, the latest semantic/web 3.0/buzzword-baiting search engine from former Google employees that’s unfortunately turned out to be approximately 5,000,000 times less effective than Google:

Cuil - Fail

Cuil - Epic Search Fail

Inevitably the blogosphere (and Friendfeed) is already abuzz with tales of Cuil’s rampant ineptitude – note that some of these reviews do point out some positives, but then they all managed to get a results page, which is more than I got in two minutes twenty seconds of frantic F5-ing.

Still, it’s clad in a mysterious black colour scheme, which is always a plus, surely.

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Ask vs. Google

October 28, 2007

Google UKGoogle has always been the king of search; so much so that it’s become a household name — and, more than that, a bonafide verb. Sure, there’s always been Yahoo! and MSN/Live Search, with the latter in particular receiving a massive amount of traffic partly because it’s the default search engine for Internet Explorer. However, for years Google has been the tech-head’s search engine of choice.

But recently Ask.com — formerly Ask Jeeves — has been aggressively marketing its search engine on primetime TV here in the UK as the all-singing, all-dancing alternative to boring old uncle G. Here’s a taster of Ask’s “can your search engine do this?” campaign:

Full credit to the Ask.com marketing team: the ads are attention-grabbing, original and, above all, they really do make Google look like the kind of old-fashioned search engine only your mother would use. But is it really? And which is better when you actually want to find relevant information?

While I fully realise I’m by no means the first blogger to try this, I decided to run a small test to compare the two. The search term I used was “Lincoln”, my current place of residence. I also restricted results to sites from the UK. Here’s what Google came up with:

Google - Lincoln

 

And here’s the same search on Ask.com:

Ask - Lincoln

The main difference is that Ask has a three-column layout, whereas Google is limited to two. Moreover, when you’re used to the clean Google search, Ask’s results page can be a little discombobulating at first, but it’s fairly logical once you get used to it.

You have the search bar on the left, with suggestions to narrow your search, and the search field itself has autocomplete suggestions as you type, which is a pretty nifty feature. On the right are samples of images, music and video searches, which in this case were actually pretty useless, but I can imagine situations where you’d want them (for instance, when searching for a band, Ask will bring up weblinks, photos, videos and song clips all on the same page.

Ask also has a nifty ‘binoculars’ feature, which is a preview snapshot of the linked webpage when you hover the mouse over the relevant icon. This is similar to the feed preview feature on Bloglines, or indeed the Snap preview here on WordPress.

One thing I didn’t like about Ask was its ‘sponsored results’ which are directly above and below the main search results, so you have to scroll down a little before you find the links that aren’t paid for. What’s more, it doesn’t mark its sponsored results very clearly; there’s an incredibly pale blue box around them, but it’s tough to spot. In contrast, Google clearly separates most of its sponsored results by placing them in the right-hand column. Sure, you sometimes get sponsored links just above the results on Google too, but it just feels easier to differentiate than on Ask.

I’ve been talking a lot about Ask’s features, but Google has one or two tricks up its sleeve. For example, if you’re logged in it tells you how many times you’ve visited a particular website. It also allows you to ‘note’ or ‘clip’ a particular weblink for future reference, rather like social bookmarking sites, such as del.icio.us. Finally, at the bottom of the results page are further search suggestions.

In terms of actual results, there really isn’t much to separate the two. Both ranked City of Lincoln Council and Lincoln University highly, while the Cathedral came slightly lower down the front page.

Bottom Line: I’ll probably stick with Google for now. Ask has some great features, but the results page feels a little overloaded for my taste.

How’s Your Online Visibility?

August 9, 2007

Everyone who’s spent any amount of their spare time on the Internet has run a Google search on their name. My first result is:

www.davidyoungmusic.com

Yep, this guy can play two recorders — at the same time. I’ve no idea how, but perhaps a passage from his homepage can give us a clue:

“[David Young’s music] offers you an invitation to take a journey to the deepest, most precious place inside yourself. These melodies fill you with gentle, relaxing peace and healing energy while drawing you inward and upward, like a soft relaxing breeze.”

Relaxing breeze? Deep inside yourself? I’m not sure I like where this is going…

In related news (and here’s the point of this post), social networking blog Mashable last month posted a road test of six new “people search” engines:

6 People Search Engines Tested: Can They Find Me?

People search is a hot new area, particularly with start-ups, as social networking becomes increasingly mainstream with the exponential growth of sites like Facebook and MySpace (not to mention the dozens of other niche networking sites). With more and more of these sites available — and with the potential rewards of using them for business — any search engine which enables you to find your friends and colleagues fast is undoubtedly going to be in demand.

People search is also, apparently, several steps beyond the simplistic world of “find yourself on Google”; whereas Google trawls the entire Intarweb, these search engines are specialized, and many use data from the big social networking sites, as well as other, more business-oriented networking sites, such as LinkedIn.

But could I find myself on any of the sites tested at Mashable? Not a chance! Peekyou, Wink, Spock and yoName all drew a blank on my name, even when I filled in extra details… Like age, location, hobbies, where I was on July 24th 2004… Talk about a let-down. So maybe my online presence needs a boost? Nah, I’m happy being mistaken for a guy who can play two recorders simultaneously.