Search Engine Comparison

15 Sep

Duckduck what? Contestant number one:
DUCKDUCKGO

 Contestant number two, this crazy thing:

INSTAGROK

Contestant number three, the one & only:

GOOGLE

So, it would definitely appear that one of these three search engines is doing a wee bit better in the marketing department (though probably this is also due largely to functionality as well as pop-culture) than the others. ‘Google’ already, of course, has me held captive to the biased opinion that ‘google is THE way to search’ things on the internet. The very brand ‘google’ has already transcended it’s mere functionality as a search engine and assimilated itself into the everyday vocabulary as the verb that in fact describes the act of searching on the internet. See even there I was tempted to write ‘the act of googling’. So with google’s seemingly unfair advantage, it will be interesting to see – biases aside – which search engine stands to be the best when put to…


THE TEST

Search topic: ‘Mexican Drug War 1980s’

Result Comparison:

  • Google: As is often the case, the top few (in this case, the top 2) results were Wikipedia pages. This is no doubt due to the ‘user popularity’ (very generally speaking) of  Wikipedia which is all linked in with incoming links, traffic, keywords and back links. (please note: google is not as simple as displaying ‘most popular searches/visited sites’ see analysis below for details). The next few results displayed were highly relevant and academically sophisticated for my topic of research – news articles and journal articles.
  •  DuckduckGo: Like google, the top 2 results were Wikipedia pages. This seems to point towards Duckduckgo having a similar algorithm to google, at least for specific historically/intellectually/politically-based topics such as my chosen test topic.  Interestingly the next 10 results were a mixture of news articles – again similar to google – and personal, non-commercial blogs. The blog aspect I find interesting, after clicking the links it was obvious that these weren’t as highly frequented pages as say, CNN Website or Wikipedia. DuckduckGo varies from google in that they must have some other indicator in the algorithm that predicts the most relevant results for users.
  •  Instagrok: WOW. Ease up Instagrok. What an amazingly (complex) search engine! The results are displayed in a sort of mind-map format which allows the user to essentially keep ‘searching’ related keywords by clicking on suggested keyword links displayed in the mind-map bubbles. Interestingly, the sites connected with the top few links on the ‘Key Facts’ sidebar, were in no way as dominant as DuckduckGo or Google. None of the suggested pages were from dominant research sites like Wikipedia or major news organisations. This probably means that Instagrok, as it’s focus is on being a ‘way of learning’ is set to find highly relevant material that discusses any given topic specifically, rather than broadly.

Result Analysis:

  • Google: Results were expected. As usual, wikipedia cropped up at the top. This is potentially risky when considering that most people when looking up  a broad overview of (in particular) political or historical topics may bypass google completely and now go straight to Wikipedia, as it is understood that Wikipedia will probably be the first few results anyway. The same applies for the next few results, which all link to high profile organisations or websites such as CNN or PBS. What was useful was the journal articles and political journal sites that google introduced me to.
  • DuckduckGo: Two useful things that DuckduckGo offered me that Google didn’t: a more visually effective teaser to the top result content – in the form of a small dialogue box sampling the wikipedia introduction to my searched topic as well as a small graphic. Secondly, Duckduckgo linked me to a few – thought slightly more obscure – very personalised accounts or reflections of my topic in the form of blog posts, which didn’t even come close to the top results in google. In this way, I found that Duckduckgo was actually a lot more diverse in it’s results; ranging from highly academic, high profile, to the ‘everyday’ account.
  • Instagrok: Was at first very distracting and difficult to navigate. However, isn’t this the general opinion people have of switching from Windows to Mac? And of course, we all know Mac’s are highly superior…The major problem with Instagrok I believe, is simply that we are not accustomed to it. However for research and learning purposes, it is very useful in that the layout encourages one to think deeper about their topic and explore it’s various aspects in a very clear manner – by charting the path through these bubble-like circular links. The sidebar that highlights ‘keyfacts’ is also very useful and effective for topics of a similar nature to the one I have used.

Ranking

A very difficult thing to do. In general, I would still rank

  1. Google: due to it’s results as being a general overview of, well, everything…?
  2. Duckduckgo: because, unlike google, it does give priority to lesser known or trafficked online material that is still of direct relevance to search.
  3. Instagrok: because it is only great for researching and exploring a particular topic, in a very particular kind of way. If you want to know about the French Revolution, yes it will give you a great overview and journey through the surrounding key facts and elements of the French Revolution…but if say, you type ‘Vintage shoes for sale’ it will get all confused and try and bring you the history of vintage, and of shoes, and of economics. Not particularly useful for day-to-day life. But a great educational resource.

Interestingly, if I was to rank them based solely on my chosen research topic:

  1. Google: would still be number one because of the high quality of its results which all led to legitimate and sophisticated sites.
  2. Instagrok!: because of the way I can navigate through my chosen topic and explore its various elements effectively by making use of the suggested bubble links.
  3. DuckduckGO: It isn’t particularly bad…it just wasn’t anything special/didn’t offer anything special in comparison to google and instagrok for my given topic.

Setting up a default search engine (I use CHROME):

google:

Automatically is the homepage and default search engine! But if it isn’t…can use the same steps as below for DuckDuckGo.

Duck Duck Go: 

Quite straightforward. You simply got to the DuckduckGo homepage, right click the URL box, click on ‘Edit Search Engines’, select ‘duckduckgo’ and click ‘make default’. BAM.

Instagrok:

To be quite honest, I don’t know if you even can have it as your default browser. The search engine page itself offers no obvious option and google won’t tell me how to either…interesting. Perhaps I can apply the same steps as Duckduckgo and see if that works!

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