According to an updated study of search engines’ result overlap conducted by Dogpile.com, there was a staggering 0.6 percent average difference in the first page results of four major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask). The study which was conducted last April 2007 measured around 19, 332 user-centered search queries. The result of this study contradicts the common notion that all search engines function similarly, indexes all available content on the web and deliver the same results. On the other hand, based on the result of this study, the search engine results’ are generally unique from across search engines. And, so basing on the result of this study, Dogpile then concludes, that metasearch is still the most accurate and most reliable search tool.
How did they arrive into this conclusion? Here are the highlights of the research study by Dogpile.com:
On the overlap percentage
- The percent of total results unique to one search engine was established to be 88.3%.
- The percent of total results shared by any two search engines was established to be 8.9%.
- The percent of total results shared by three search engines was established to be 2.2%.
- The percent of total results shared by the top four search engines was established to be 0.6%.
Percentage of unique search results
- On average, 69.6% of Google first page search results were unique to Google.
- On average, 79.4% of Yahoo! first page search results were unique to Yahoo!
- On average, 80.1% of Live first page search results were unique to Live.
- On average, 75.0% Ask first page search results were unique to Ask.
Difference in search ranking
- Only 3.6% of the #1 ranked non-sponsored search results were the same across all search engines for a given query, down from 7.0% in the July 2005 overlap study.
- The top four search engines do not agree on all three of the top non-sponsored search results as no instances of agreement of all of the top three results were measured in the data.
- More than one-third of the time (38.6%) the top search engines completely disagreed on the top three non-sponsored search results.
- More than one-fourth of the time (26.1%) the top search engines completely disagreed on the top five non-sponsored search results.
There were also other findings pertaining to sponsored link overlap, users unable to find the best results using the four major search engines.
The study may have been a commendable effort on the part of Dogpile, but one cannot but think about the motive behind it. Dogpile is a metasearch engine that delivers search results from various search engines. In order to generate more users, it has to illustrate that metasearch is the most accurate and exhaustive way of searching for query-specific information. But then on the users end, accuracy and exhaustiveness is most often than not undermine by familiarity and popularity of the search engine. And we all know which major search engine is the most popular and most familiar and which has a big user base.
Sometimes, one search engine is enough for a user.