The battle of the search engines

It’s the war to end all wars. The great warriors Google and Yahoo! have been fighting each other on the front line for years. For a while now it’s looked like Google would emerge victorious but Yahoo! have just got themselves a new set of weapons and if you believe the statistics, are staging a comeback.

The new Yahoo! Search incorporates a ‘Search Assist’ tool, an attempt to predict what the user is looking for which offers suggestions if it senses hesitation. Yahoo! claims that the new tool improves results by 61% but it may prove an irritation to slow typists and can fortunately be switched off. Other enhancements include an image search using Yahoo’s Flickr service and audio results, courtesy of Yahoo! Music.

For hardened Google enthusiasts, this may seem like nothing new. Google have been offering blended results of video, audio, images and products for a few years now and whether ‘Search Assist’ is a blessing or an annoying curse remains to be seen. However, the statistics from web analysis firm Compete put Yahoo! firmly ahead in search fulfilment.

Their study shows that, during August, 75% of searches on Yahoo! resulted in a successful clickthrough, compared with 65% on Google. And that’s before the launch of Yahoo’s new search tools. Why then are we all worshipping at the inferior temple of Google?

Maybe it’s not all about the quality of results. Google’s minimalist, user-friendly interface is certainly preferable to the confusing circus of options available from the Yahoo! homepage and the wealth of additional tools it offers, from Google Earth to Google Docs, has users clamouring for more.

Whatever the reasons, you can bet Yahoo! aren’t surrendering yet. Rumour has it they’ve got more improvements in the pipeline. Well, that’s what Google News says anyway…

Posted on 30/10/2007
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