In fairness to Google…

…I have to report fairly or risk joining the Google-bashers club.

Yesterday I was asked to find a company executive. My enquirer said he’d written down the name of one of the attendees but the line hadn’t been too clear on his teleconference and since then he hadn’t had any luck searching for confirmation of the name he’d written by tracing the executive on the internet.  It’s always embarrassing to have to go back to your client to ask “umm, who was I talking to?”, so that’s where I came in. I was given the company’s name and “Dave” with some possible variants of the executive’s surname.

I love a sleuthy challenge like this, so I eagerly set forth to find the right person. I also  decided to take the opportunity to duplicate my search string variations, across DuckDuckGo, Ixquick and Google.  It took me a good hour before I could enjoy the warm glow of victory (one of the reasons professional searchers succeed where others fail: dogged determination), and Google was the one that gave me the answer.

The other two were nowhere near. So much so that I have since wondered what I could have done to make them bring back a better result.  After all, the source was a free US-state science-based newsletter, openly available on the web and fairly recent too.

The answer is nothing, unless someone deeply into search engines (such as Karen Blakeman – see earlier post) knows how to “feed” websites into a search engine? The reason they couldn’t find the place that this executive appeared was because they hadn’t covered this particular science newsletter in their content. I’m fairly sure of this because I have since spoon-fed them the title of the newsletter to no avail.

This isn’t by any means suggesting that Ixquick and DuckDuckGo are inferior to Google.  It illustrates that they are – all of them – different, not only in how they run your search, but also in the sites that they trawl for the results.

Furthermore, this is the second example in this blog of the impact that using one search engine alone can have upon the success of my work as a searcher.

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This entry was posted in About Google, Information literacy, People, Psychology of search, Search engines and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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