Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back to comparing search engines or Google vs. the rest

In the past, I have written posts comparing some simple types of searches between the variously popular online search engines. My conclusion over the past years has always shown that the results for genealogists is dramatically in favor of Google as opposed to any of the others. I have always been able to say this without qualification. But the question has been raised again recently in some of the classes. So, I concluded that it is time to talk about the differences but perhaps from a different approach.

In the past I have used a search on my Great-grandfather Henry Martin Tanner. The results from a Google search on his name and a search with any other non-affiliated search engine are dramatic. There is no question that searching on Google is more productive than any other search engine. But what about some alternative methods of searching?

One thing about searching is that you can use patterns. In the case of genealogy, the names in any family can be used as a pattern. I will use the same person, Henry Martin Tanner, but instead of searching for him, I will search for the names in his family all together at the same time: henry, eliza, rollin, leroy tanner.

Here is a screenshot of the results:


The results are dramatic. I used no quotation marks, no commas, nothing but the names and all of the entries are related to my Great-grandfather's family.

So how do the other search engines match up? Here is exactly the same search in Microsoft's Bing.com:


Surprise, searching for the pattern of the family gives much better results from Bing. It also found the family. So how about Yahoo.com? Since Yahoo uses Google, I would expect the same results:


The first few results are promising, but as you go down through the results, they get less accurate or on point. Next to Ask.com.


Ask.com was pretty much a bust. There were a couple of hits, but most of the results were entirely off topic. Not very useful at all. How about AOL.com?


Slightly better than Ask.com, but not very useful at all.

It seems clear that Google still has the lead. In this type of search, Bing.com can do a good job also. But searching with any of the other search engines is not all that productive. Try this type of search on your relatives and even experiment with different search engines. You will be surprised at the results.

2 comments:

  1. Could it have anything to do with you using Google regularly? Your history could have been captured by Google, much like it feeds news items to you based on past views in Google News.

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  2. That's a good point to consider when doing searches, Bonnie. If you want a clean search on something, you can open up an incognito window in Chrome, and that will strip out the Google history for the search.

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