I wanted to use the title ” is Google too distracted to make a better search engine?”. But
it seemed a bit long and “preachy” so I settled for this shorter and “funner” title. And it does fit well into my Yahoo Search is better than Google mini-series.
Lately I have been thinking and talking to friends about how Google is nowhere near as good as it used to be in it early days. I was telling a friend of mine who is doing research in Information Retrieval that she should invent a better search engine than Google because the world needs it, especially the French speaking world. We laughed at the thought but I was actually at least half serious, the world needs better search engines because Google is dropping the ball. I have to say I am one of the biggest fan of Google, the company, and the search engine and that is probably why I’m taking the time to point out areas where they could improve, hoping that search is still important for the company and that they are doing the very best they can to make Google search better.
Thank you for reading so far and this is where I finally tell you what actually happened and how Google disappointed me once again.
It all started with me setting out to discover the publications of a certain person of whom I approximately knew the last name. I figured, no problem, Google will figure out who it is that I am searching, I will even add relevant keywords to the misspelled name to help. But alas. I searched again an again, trying different spellings, keywords nothing worked. Then I had a chance to actually see the name written somewhere. Unfortunately I still could not remember it completely, I sadly don’t have photographic memory. But I figured that with my spelling now closer to the correct one Google should figure it out. Then after trying one keyword after the other I thought, without much conviction that perhaps Yahoo might understand me better. I didn’t actually believe it but I was hopeful because frankly Google didn’t get it. And lo and behold. With only the misspelled last name the second result from Yahoo was exactly the person I was searching for, no additional keywords needed. I could not believe my eyes, I was too happy! Google however, with the last name alone gives me results exclusively form an incorrect suggestion. You see, the problem is that I had substituted an e for an o and Yahoo guessed my error correctly but Google on the other hand guessed my misspelling wrong and substituted a k for an r changing the name completely thus giving me completely erroneous results.
For privacy reasons I am not telling the name of the person I was searching for but I believe that I have given enough clues to help people who know me and that person to figure it out.
I for one started using Google sometimes around 2000. I was looking for the datasheet of a LED chip. I entered the part number and the word datasheet and the very first result that showed up was the datasheet of said chip. I knew then that I had found the one search engine that I would ever need to use. Back then I had used all sorts of search engines, HotBot, Altavista, Northen Light, Dogpile etc… None came close to this level of precision. I even used Yahoo which was for a a while powered by Google and yet the level of satisfaction I got from using Google itself was unrivaled. I actually believe that Google, the search engine, is a gift to the world and that it changed the world in a major way. It may seemed like I’m exaggerating but if you hadn’t experienced it, try and imagine what you needed to do to find relevant content on the web before Google. But this is for another post.
In spite of all this, I still cannot make the switch to using Yahoo or Bing as my primary search engine. The first reason being that Google is still an excellent search engine and the second being the interface. Google search has the best interface of all Google web sites I have ever used. And this is also true for results pages. To be honest, I almost never use the homepage I just type my query in the browser most of the time. But Yahoo’s result page is atrocious, the same can be said for Bing’s result page. It might also be that I am so used to using Google that I have a hard time finding anything else visually appealing, yes that is possible as well.
Just to show that I don’t hate Google here are screenshots of the early days of the website taken from the Wayback Machine.
Please accept my apologies for such a poorly written article. Both Google and Yahoo deserve better but I haven’t blogged in so long that I need some time to get back to my best blogging shape.
Thank you for reading