Internet users are freakishly protective of their search engines. Every single user has a preferred search engine and likely turns several shades of red whenever anyone attempts to change their default search options. From the old ‘Ask Jeeve’ to the latest offering by MSN, Bing, there are literally hundreds of search engines available. The problem is, most users only know about a few of the perennial favorites, most notably Google, Bing and Yahoo. Maybe it’s time to question not only what makes a particular search engine so popular and instead focus on which search engine is best suited to a particular research need.
Most surfers rely on the Net for generalized information. These surfers typically rely on Google or Bing for their searches, and they should. These are two of the most powerful general search engines available. Competition between the two is fierce; with Google still leading with a bigger market share, but Bing is relatively new and has already made a dent in the enormous lead Google has long enjoyed.
Many searchers focus extensively on rankings and Google wins this category hands down. That special ‘formula’ they use to rank sites is a secret, but the truth is, it provides pretty accurate results. Chances are the first page of results will contain exactly what the user is interested in.
For users looking for more specific information, there are literally hundreds of available search engines. Whether the user is looking for background information (Wikipedia and Sweet Search), accredited research (Infomine and Infotopia) or help from an expert (Ask a Librarian and All Experts), there is a search engine that was built to meet that need. Other search engines are available to cover specific topics or areas of interest.
Search engines are about results and personal choice and most users pick one or two favorites and stick with them. In other words, don’t get caught between a user and their search engine.