Since the last time that I wrote this article there have been a great many changes with the major search engines and what they can do. This provides a comparison of major engines. Previous versions of this article have included various different search engines, and this continues to be the case here; I add and drop search engines as they come into or go out of fashion. The previous version included AltaVista, AllTheWeb and Lycos. I decided to drop the latter two, since they have (in my opinion) pretty much dropped off the scale, but I kept AltaVista, mainly because I still like it and will use it now and then. I have included Exalead and Icerocket as new engines; mainly because they are ones that I will use, and I've also put Yahoo! and MSN Search in as well, since they are increasing in importance.
If you are used to online database searching, or using CD-ROM products,
you'll find that these engines are an annoying mix of the very skillful and the
very primative. Altavista will, for example, search through a very large
database in a matter of a few seconds, and while it is reasonably sophisticated
does not stand up well in comparison to some of the advanced features offered
by CD-ROM publishers.
Don't forget that there is more to searching the Internet than just looking at WWW pages. An increasing number of search engines will allow you to use their facilities to search newsgroups, or perhaps people's email addresses.
The databases which the search engines use may well be out of date; new material may have been added, other material may have been deleted. You will only discover this when you actually click to go to a particular site.
If you don't find what you want from one, try using another.
Use a variety of different engines, appropriate to your needs. If for example you just want information on UK or European resources, it makes more sense to go to a search engine which focuses on that region, rather than use a search engine which is global in approach.
There are a great many search engines, but for a list of those which I find particularly useful, please visit my Search Engines page.
|Usenet||NO||NO||YES (Google groups)||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|Word in URL||YES||YES||YES||NO||YES||YES||NO||YES|
|Languages?||All or English||38||35||NO||38||10||25||37|
|Limit by file format?||YES (6)||YES (8)||YES (6)||NO||YES (7)||NO||NO||YES (7)|
|Proximity||NO||YES up to 16 words||YES (Using *)||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|Wildcards (three * mice)||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Search in Domain||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||NO||YES|
|Search in Title||YES||YES||YES||NO||YES||YES||NO||YES|
|Sort Results?||NO||YES (oldest/newest)||NO||NO||YES (date, popularity, exactness)||NO||NO||NO|
|Preview Doc. size||NO||YES||YES||YES||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|Date doc updated||NO||YES||YES||NO||Variable||NO||NO||NO|
|Search in results||NO||NO||YES||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|Index size given?||NO||YES 2,027,698,928||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|Personalised?||NO||YES||YES||YES (search history)||NO||NO||NO||YES|
|Search weblogs option?||NO||NO||Seperate function||YES||NO||NO||NO||Seperate function|
|Limit by date?||YES (excellent)||YES (good)||YES (poor)||NO||NO||YES (excellent)||NO||YES (poor)|
|"Phil Bradley"||133,000 (3rd)||2,729 (7th)||93,100 (4th)||92,900 (5th)||482,554 (1st)||14,600 (6th)||2,164 (8th)||144,000 (2nd)|
|Everton||12,200,000 (2nd)||5,240,000 (3rd)||688,000 (7th)||5,040,000 (4th)||1,147,801 (6th)||1,748,00(5th)||138,390 (8th)||13,000,000 (1st)|
|Internet||2,900,000,000 (1st)||160,139,089 (7th)||2,470,000,000 (3rd)||2,147,483,647 (4th)||563,280,393 (5th)||416,770,000 (6th)||34,112,115 (8th)||2,890,000,000 (2nd)|
I have tried to mention as many different features as possible, and I hope that they're obvious. However, I've also added below an explanation of them.
Having compared the different search engines I thought it might be a bit of fun to rank them. This is very unscientific (I mainly added up the Yes's and took account of updating and the size of the database), but I think its reasonably accurate and reflects my own experiences. So, for what its worth, here's the league table, with points assigned to give you an indication of how they match up. It's not really a fair test, but was interesting, at least to me!
|Exalead||23 points||Excellent all round search engine that does very well in almost every single category|
|Yahoo!||21 points||Another great engine, let down slightly by its display of results|
|AltaVista||18 points||It might be old, but it can still do the business|
|16 points||Surprisingly poor result, losing out because of it's inflexibility|
|MSN Search||16 points||Getting there, but still has a way to go|
|Teoma||9 points||Let down by its limited search options|
|Icerocket||7 points||Better at searching blogs than the web|
|Wisenut||1 point||Good for categories, very little else|
If you're interested, you can compare the current ranking with the previous version of this article written in 2003, 2001 or even a few years before that!.
Now you've had a chance to look at some single search engines, you might want to have a look at some multi-search engines by going to http://www.philb.com/msengine.htm
Back to Phil Bradley's home page.