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The Google Bias

By on Mar 8, 2008 in Tech Takes | 6 comments

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It’s no secret that I like Yahoo!’s offerings more than Google; and I’m also aware of the fact that there are a lot more Google fanboys out there than Yahoo!. Obviously, that isn’t a way to settle the answer on which one is better – after all, more people use Windows, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.

The Trigger
Anyway, the reason why I sat down to write this post is because of two reasons. I just wrote a review of the new Foo Fighters’ latest album, and was searching up some basic info (like their site, et al). Of course, I used Yahoo! Search, and was quite delighted to find the search result with an info box giving their site, links to information on their albums, songs, video; inline videos; a photo of the band; links to play song samples. Have a look below.


It was curious what would be shown if I searched the same on Google. After all, the writers blogs like Google Operating System seem to have an orgasm every time Google makes some update to its PlusBox results. I really am SICK and FED UP of reading posts bordering on “Oooh! Aaaah! Have you seen the NEW and IMPROVED update to Google PlusBox results? Ooh!”. Really, it’s irritating to read that every few weeks. Anyway, I did search it on Google, and here’s what I got.

As you can see, Google gave the link all right, but not in a direct form. You’d have to go the Foo Fighters site, and figure out yourself from there. Google and its orgasmic fanboys derive a lot of pleasure in trying to brag that ‘Google presents the results directly to what the user wants, so that they don’t need to look around more’.

There ya go fanboys, as far as I see it, if I was someone looking for info on Foo Fighters for the first time in my life, then it’s a no-brainer that Yahoo! Search’s result is better – for someone searching for the first time, he immediately gets to check out their latest songs / videos, and direct links to pertinent info like albums, etc.

The Other Reason
Recently, I went to the watch the Tata Crucible Campus Edition Quiz 2008. Jimi was there too, and we (mainly, he was compiling this time) decided that we should compile the questions. After coming back, he had to resort to Google to figure out stuff from the notes we’d taken (because my handwriting is pathetic). I really commend his work, for he’s created it with amazing detail to authenticity (recreating the feel of the visuals, etc). He called me up to tell that apparently he’d searched for some stuff, and “neither found the result on Google Image Search or Yahoo! Image Search”. Mystified, I looked it up myself. With the same search terms, and got the result on Yahoo! Image Search. Turns out, he searched Google, but never bothered to check Yahoo! Assuming that Yahoo! won’t have it either if Google doesn’t, he simply decided that nobody had it.

I’m not pointing fingers (especially the middle one) at anybody here, but I wanted to illustrate a point. And it’s this. People, and especially Google’s fanboys, are too blind about Google’s shortcomings. Even when time again Yahoo! Image Search at least has been proved better because of it’s better index and tight integration with Flickr, people don’t bother to check it and just brush it away. It’s disturbing, and it’s scary.

The Future Lies In Marketing Yahoo! Search

These two incidents really showed to me what Yahoo! Search really needs to succeed – better and vocal marketing of its search engines. Things like their Panama advertising system, etc are good steps – but less effective than a very visible marketing campaign. An all-out media blitz – Internet, TV, radio – is what they need. Yahoo! home page is already among the most trafficked site on the Web – it needs to get people to start entering search terms in that box if it wants to win. Over time, people WILL realize on their own that Yahoo! Search is better.

Another thing which makes Yahoo! Search better is its inbuilt search suggest feature – something only available via toolbars for Google. And the fact that Yahoo! Search is better and more consistent than Google in pointing out alternate search terms.

PS – One funny thing. If you type the letter ‘L’ (just that one letter) into Google Search Suggest using their toolbar, the first suggestion is ‘Lindsay Lohan’! Whoa, I knew she was popular, but THIS popular!?



6 Comments

  1. Anuj

    March 9, 2008

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    First of all let me ask you something, why do people fight over companies like it’s a matter of honor? They’re frikkin’ capitalists, so am I but that’s beside the point.

    The thing with google is that it tends to be more efficient at times and page rank is something quite impressive, moreover it does take lesser time to load than yahoo, whose homepage I feel is too cluttered & there’s a kind of elegance to it, I can’t quite my finger on it but the user interaction with google is something really wonderful- and no I didn’t orgasm while writing this.

    I don’t know enough about Yahoo!s search techniques to comment on it, I reserve my judgement(in general) until I know all of the facts.

  2. GQ

    March 9, 2008

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    @Anuj: You don’t need to load Yahoo! home page to access their search function. You can do that from http://search.yahoo.com or, a more easier address, http://www.ysearch.com. You’ll see that that page is every bit fast loading as Google’s. As for being more effective, I’d like to differ – and I’ve already pointed out two (albeit anecdotal) incidents to illustrate my point.

  3. Prashanth Kanduri

    March 9, 2008

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    And in the search box, Lindsay Lohan turned up because I searched for that on my Google Search Box in Firefox. Sorry to say but, there goes another reason for you LIKE Google…
    Thanks for the nice words about the compilation, its there in your Inbox now!

  4. GQ

    March 9, 2008

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    @Prashanth: Yahoo! *also* has search suggest. And Yahoo!’s search suggest, unlike Google’s, can be activated from their normal web page too, unlike Google’s which requires their toolbar.

  5. Prateek Vijayavargia

    March 12, 2008

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    I used Yahoo Search on ur suggestion and saw that it has some good results for what i was searching….Hompage is also fine – search.yahoo.com
    But i suppose the bias to google is here to stay atleast in Search.
    Search Suggest BTW was not too cool..because it has some pre-loaded or user searched queries which come.

  6. GQ

    March 12, 2008

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    @Prateek: Yeah, sigh. The bias does seem to be staying unless they do some aggressive marketing. And the main premise of Search Suggest IS that it statistically matches what other users search for when they enter similar keywords. You can turn off Search Suggest (click on the Preferences link), or make it show only when you pause typing etc.

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