Google Blogoscoped

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blind Search: Compare Search Engines and Cast Your Vote

Blind Search is the name of a site that lets you enter a search query, and then shows you three result columns where you can vote on the best one. Because you don’t see where the particular results are coming from until after you vote, you will not be directly influenced by the brand. Part of the test of Blind Search are Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo, and Google.

I find this an interesting test. My first, completely non-representative trial was entering blogoscoped about. Of the three results, two showed the Blogoscoped homepage, but only one showed the actual, more relevant Blogoscoped About page. Guess which search engine it was?

Some caveats: Even when the logo will not be visible, it’s entirely possible that using any particular search engine for a long time will subconsciously makes you adjust how you formulate queries – namely, you might train to phrase searches in such a way that your particular (imperfect) search engine of choice returns its most relevant results. So if you’ve used Google for years now, then it’s worth noting that your queries themselves might be more “Google-friendly”, thus give Google a slight edge over competition. Another thing to keep in mind is that certain features, like automated spelling corrections for top results (as Google offers it for some queries), are not correctly pushed to the Blind Search interface; this may skew voting results.

Right now, among the 793 votes casted already, Bing is in the lead with 38%, followed by Google with 36%, then Yahoo with 25%. (There may be further caveats to note for these poll results, like which groups are starting to enter queries at the site, and also, what types of queries people enter when testing vs when in real-life search situations.)

[Thanks WebSonic!]

Update: Another potential caveat: the creator of this test, Michael Kordahi, works for Microsoft. [Hat tip to Matt Cutts.]

Update: Google was in the lead for most parts of the day as far as I watched it, but during the last few minutes Yahoo is rising suspiciously fast (“Google: 31%, Bing: 24%, Yahoo: 45% | 41,304 votes”) – perhaps the poll is being hacked, or there are some other problems skewing this.

Update: Blind Search’s creator Michael comments: “Indeed the poll has been compromised probably equally due to my lack of leet skills and a malicious person gaming it ... Will eventually get around to fixing the data.” [Thanks Michael!]


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