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Perfect Search


The Perfect Search

by Kenneth Lyen

Is there such a thing as the perfect search?

The New York Times published on 18 October 2004 an article about Google envy fomenting search wars. Jealous of Google's domination of searching the internet, new search engines have been launched in the hope that they can vanguish this behemoth.

Which is the best search engine today?

I decided to conduct a personal and limited little experiment. I searched my own name. Just a simple search. The reason I chose this topic is not because of vanity, but because I know precisely where all my web listings are located, and therefore I would be able to identify all the hits, and, more importantly, I will also be able to detect all the misses.

I confined myself to 8 search engines, freely available on the net, and looked at only the top 30 sites listed. Results are given as percentages. I have ranked the search engines according to the accuracy of their searches. Perfect hits are listed under "Correct Hits." Identification of a site where I was formerly listed, and can still be found with one further search within that site, is listed under "Half Wrong". Sites totally undetected are listed under "Totally Missed." And sites listed that are absolutely unrelated to myself, are listed under "Totally Wrong."

Search Engine Correct Hits Half Wrong Totally Missed Totally Wrong
1. A9                             93              7                        0                         0
2. Google                    83             10                       0                         7
3. Excite                       50             26                       7                       17
4. WebCrawler           53             23                       4                        10
5. Yahoo                       33            33                      10                       24
6. Clusty                       30            30                        7                        33
7. MSN                          24            10                       13                       53
8. Snap                         23            10                       10                       57

To my great surprise, Google is not the top search engine. It has been supplanted by’s A9. This is an excellent search engine and highly accurate in its capabilities. I realise that Google has other advanced search capabilities, but I am not exploring these functions.

I also like newcomer Clusty because it groups the topics into folders, and makes the presentation clean and tidy.

Although it sits at the bottom of my search engine table, I like the other newcomer, Snap. It has a pleasant layout, and furthermore, it gives information about the popularity of each website and a rating of its satisfaction.

What has been most disappointing is that the older search engines, the ones that preceded Google, have not improved over the years. Excite, WebCrawler, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s MSN search, are uniformly unremarkable.

It will be interesting to see how these listed and other unlisted search engines battle it out in the future. No doubt with keen competition, we will one day achieve that perfect search engine!