Search Engine Olympics – a Gold Medal for ?

Which Search Engine wins the Medals?

Today’s headline suggests that Yahoo Wins Gold Medal for Online Olympic Traffic.

As U.S. workers continue to check out the Olympics online during the work week, Yahoo is beating the competition in drawing eyes to its Olympic content. But if you are in management, don’t freak out. Peak time for your employees’ daily Olympic fix is lunch time.

That can hardly be regarded as a complete answer to the question that David “Doc” Searls posed, “Is Yahoo a better search engine than Google?

One of the commenters pointed out that Jeff Jonas had already suggested How to Beat Google! (At Search). Another contender was said to be Clusty.

Clusty got its start in Pittsburgh, PA in 2004 when the search software company Vivísimo decided to take its award-winning search technology to the web.

Vivísimo was founded in 2000 by three Carnegie Mellon University scientists who decided to tackle the problem of information overload in web search. Rather than focusing just on search engine result ranking, we realized that grouping results into topics, or “clustering,” made for better search and discovery. As search became a necessity for web users, Vivísimo developed a service robust enough to handle the variety of information the everyday web user was after. The result was Clusty: an innovative way to get more out of every search.

Doc Searls had checked a few searches for old blog items in affirming the superiority of Yahoo. It is an intriguing question. Clearly a well-founded answer would require much testing. However a quick check might confirm whether he was on to something. I therefore checked out the performance of the three, Yahoo, Google and Clusty, on some of my old blog posts. The blog posts were all present in the databases for Yahoo and Google, so this was a measure of how well they could deliver results from their databases.

To provide a topical summary measure, I decided to award gold, silver and bronze medals in each event. The gold medal was worth three points, the silver medal two points and the bronze one point. Here are the detailed results for searches for these phrases. They were done without quotes. The phrases were chosen at random so although the sample is small, it should be representative. NF indicates that the blog post was not found in the first 100 results

Performance has a whole host of associations that work well, particularly considering the sports analogy.
#1 Yahoo #1 Clusty #4 Google (61,000 entries)
Does UPS own Brown as part of its brand?
NF Yahoo #6 Clusty #3 Google (365,000 entries)
This is because the use of Frames in web design causes all sorts of problems so that most savvy web designers do not use them.
NF Yahoo #1 Clusty #3 Google (314,000 entries)
They’re even talking about a place for bludgers.
#7 Yahoo #1 Clusty NF Google (65,500 entries)
It’s intriguing to think of the Internet as an Open Space as in Open Space Technology.
NF Yahoo NF Clusty #8 Google (87,100 entries)
ReCellular has more than half the U.S. phone recycling business.
#23 Yahoo #23 Clusty NF Google (714 entries)

Which search engine had the best medal standing? As mentioned, Medal Scores were assigned as follows:
3 for Gold, 2 for Silver, 1 for Bronze.
This gave the following results.
        Yahoo 10.5 | Clusty 14.5 | Google 11
The minimum medal score would be 6 and the maximum 18.

… and the winner is Clusty. If these results were substantiated in more extensive testing, then the major search engines might have to take Clusty seriously. Google of course has a huge advance on the rest of the field. However if Yahoo’s possible superiority opens up the question, then questioners may possibly become aware of the little search engine that could.

If you would like to see a short video summary of this, then you can play the following:

The video itself, Is Yahoo Beating Google, can be found on YouTube.

26 thoughts on “Search Engine Olympics – a Gold Medal for ?”

  1. It’s always interesting to see how different search engines stack up, but whenever I try to break out of the box and try a non-Google engine, I wind up frustrated with the experience. Yahoo is decent, and has some nice ways of presenting information, but it never feels as relevant to me. Clusty is new to me, though, so it might be fun to see how well it works.

  2. Thanks for the info. I was just wondering if you have any feedback on using glyphius with yahoo, I have used it with google and it works very well.

  3. hmmm.. so there will be an upcoming google killer.. there’s this search engine site that was developed by some former elite engineers from google, i’m talking about …. there’s lots of search engine sites coming up to compete with google, but i doubt if they can outrun google.

  4. This was an interesting read, I would have never guessed that Yahoo would have such a strong showing.

    On another note, I tried Chrome as soon as it was available and wasn’t that impressed, it’s FF for me.


  5. I do believe with the right marketing, google could be beat by a new engine one day. There are a lot of new ideas coming out but not much marketing. Google you hear about every day which is why they have such a tight grip on the market.

  6. That’s interesting. I would thing that the opposite would be true and Google would dominate the Olympic search marathon.

  7. It never ceases to amaze me that Google will display a 404 from sites in the top five ranks.

    Oh sure — their server could be down, and yes a glitch or up date might be happening on the remote site, oh, and I suppose men from Mars could be holding php programmers hostage.

    But that notwithstanding, the number of 404’s I come across in a week is amazing. I really respect Google but if a site is in the top 5, it must be getting spidered more often than most so, why isn’t the domain relegated to the sandbox?


  8. In our experience, only trial-and-error works. Google – the six-ton gorilla – sometimes produces fewer hits for a particular keyword than, say, Ask. It just depends. We at Crown SEO, Ltd. have seen blogs and sites skyrocket overnight into number one Google position through the use of white hat SEO tools so the concepts of this blog are correct.

  9. In relation to FF v Crome, Crome is great but in its infancy, I will have to use FF until crome has as many supported plug-ins.
    I recently wrote a post about Google going from strength to strength and how Yahoo being unable to compete (, its monopolistic but quick rises can often lead to quick downfalls.
    Yahoo is in a great position, it has made all the groundwork and has the foundations set. Although Yahoo needs to seriously change its whole business model and provide customer centred solutions that don’t overwhelm people with too many options.

  10. Interesting article, but Google has so much of a lead, I can’t see anyone catching up.

    On my own sites, Google accounts for 90%+ of traffic … naybe I am wrong, but I don’t optimise for anyone else.

  11. One thing I got form this post is a new searching option clusty, thanks. I had tried other search engines a part from Google like alta vista and yahoo. There is some kind of satisfaction attached to Google may be because it is advertised in such a manner. Yahoo has recently approved as it also gives help regarding the search criteria. Almost all my clients even for web design or optimization wants me to work for Google and hardly for any other engine.

  12. Whether Yahoo beats Google in a contest, Google is still the #1 search engine in the world. Anyone involved in any kind of internet marketing will still want to rank near the top of the Google serps if they expect to make any money.

  13. While I use Google exclusively, I never forget developing (SEO-wise) for Yahoo and MSN. Why throw away 30+% of a site’s potential audience? That could be a lot of $$ thrown down the drain if visitors can’t reach your sites.

  14. I agree with Web Comp Analyst. We totally focus on optimizing for Google. However if you are putting out content in a broad basis, links will naturally help your ranking in the other search engines as well. We find that Live is very easy, Yahoo not bad, but changed their algorithm recently that impacted some of our rankings.

    In my opinion Google is so far ahead of the competion, it would be very difficult to knock them off.

  15. Every search engine the level of Google and Yahoo will run its course. Eight years ago we would have never thought Yahoo would have been passed by this margin and eight years from now there will be another.

  16. yeah, but the question is what the heck happened to MSN? They are like dog in the dust. You would think that Microsoft would decide to make some thing happen…maybe they are just going to try to keep aquiring Yahoo and think that will work…What happened to AOL? Dust….

  17. Very interesting article and comparison. I always kind of assume Google provides the best and most relevant results. But after reading your post I think I might have to start trying Yahoo too and see how they compare. I had never heard of Clusty either and I’ll have to try it out as well. Thanks.

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