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Friday, 20th April 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

Abstract

Is Googling for your answers still the best option? Blekko's 3 engine monte lets you enter your search terms and provides unattributed search results from Google, Bing and Blekko. You can decide the best for yourself, and then reveal who returned the answers. Google's dominance may annoy but it does provide some impressive products.

Item

Here’s a little experiment. Blekko, has a nice little feature (3 engine monte) which allows you to enter a search term and get results from three search engines which are presented in three columns. You are then invited to compare the results in the three columns and choose which one you like the best. It is then revealed which search engine provided the results: Bing, Google or Blekko.

I played with this for longer than is healthy and found it truly fascinating. The only problem was, I kept choosing the Google column.  

What? Is this another ruse by the search giant to convince us that their software is the best (by secretly infiltrating another engine)? Have I been so conditioned to Google that I’m subliminally and inexorably drawn to the big G? Am I just a lousy searcher who wouldn’t recognise a decent set of search results if he saw them?  

Assuming the answer to the three aforementioned rhetorical questions is no, is Google really still the best and ergo, the most popular? Not according to the latest results from Experian Hitwise reported on the E Word.

For the four weeks ending 7 April 2012, Google.com and Google.co.uk received a combined total of 90.44% of search volume. This is almost 0.5% down on its March search engine market share. OK, it’s peanuts, but is it significant and what might the reason be? Are the main rivals, particularly Microsoft’s Bing, getting better or are people getting a little frustrated with Google’s quest for internet domination and are turning to alternatives, particularly the new kids in town?

Blekko’s traffic is spiking, according to Search Engine Land and there are five reasons given as to why this could be so. One of those reasons is disatisfaction. The aggressive way in which Google seems to be extending its reach and thereby driving people to other search alternatives is certainly a current theme as evidenced in a blog post called “Google Just Made Bing the Best Search Engine’.  

But before we all go Google bashing, it’s worth remembering that the company does make some pretty impressive products, most of which are free or very low cost comparatively. And as a big, powerful and influential organisation, they’re simply behaving like other big, powerful and influential organisations, that is, trying to get even bigger, more powerful and more influential. 

I’m not happy with the recent consolidation of tools and streamlining of privacy policies either, but when it comes to choosing the most relevant set of search results blind, I seem to keep choosing the wrong ones! 

(NB for a good introduction to Blekko, see Danny Sullivan’s article ‘spinning the web’.)

 

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