You may remember back in February I performed a wholly unscientific comparison of Google, MSN Search and Yahoo!, in which I tried a search for the terms ‘Google’, ‘MSN’ and ‘Yahoo!’ in each of those search engines, to see who is the daddy of web search.
I thought it was time to update the metrics. Search has been back in the headlines this week as Google extended its desktop search efforts into the enterprise, offering "employees one-stop Google search for the desktop, intranet, or web", the latest piece of one-upmanship between the search firm and Microsoft.
Desktop search has been identified as the next battleground for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others, thanks to the perceived deficiencies of the search function in Windows, which Microsoft hopes to address in the Longhorn version of the operating system. Earlier this week, Microsoft brought its consumer desktop search out of beta and, as CBR had earlier reported, said it plans to deliver an enterprise version towards the end of the year.
Enterprise search is taking Google-like technologies in a completely different direction, enabling rapid retrieval of all sorts of enterprise information thanks to some nifty caching technology. MSN, Google and Yahoo have all upped the ante in the search space, but whose web search is the most comprehensive? My simple test involves searching Google, MSN Search and Yahoo! for the terms, ‘Google’, ‘MSN’ and ‘Yahoo!’. Scientific it isn’t. But the results are interesting.
When I performed this test in February, Google won hands down, finding 155 million occurrences of the term ‘google’, while MSN Search found ‘google’ 68.6 million times and Yahoo found it 58.1 million times. For the search terms ‘MSN’ and ‘Yahoo!’ the results were similar.
Try it now, and Google finds ‘google’ 261 million times (up 68% on February). MSN finds ‘google’ 65.3 million times (down 5% on February), while Yahoo found the term 178 million times (up a massive 206% from February).
The order is not the same for the searches of the terms ‘MSN’ and ‘Yahoo’. ‘MSN’ was found by Google 61.5 million times, fewer than MSN (65.7 million) and Yahoo (135 million). The term ‘Yahoo!’ was found by Google 361 million times, Yahoo 351 million times, and MSN Search 104.6 million times.
What can we learn from this? Damned if I know. It seems though that Google is still the most comprehensive, with Yahoo coming in second and Microsoft Search third. Yahoo actually beat Google in this test in a search for the term ‘MSN’. It is relatively early days for MSN Search, so perhaps it is still trawling through those millions of web sites and caching them for future search purposes.
As I noted last time I did this informal test, however, you can’t rule Microsoft out. Apparently the company’s ad campaign is going to include television, print, Internet and outdoor promotions. Microsoft marketing has deep pockets. Can Google compete with that level of publicity? We shall have to wait and see. The search engine wars are far from over, and enterprise search is the next battleground.