Search Engines

Let's face it, Google is a fairly decent search engine. If you are looking to explore the meta, visit trends, or find the most direct popular site to a question, the Google search engine does a fairly decent job at finding the correct results. However, it is not the best. Just because something is popular, doesn't make it the best. What does that term, "The Best" even mean? It can represent a variety of things. It can be the best at being fast, or it can be the best at providing the most results. To understand what the best means, you have to understand what you want out of a search engine. I've recently done a 'bit' of research into the various search engines. In the beginning there was no search engines. Before hosting a dot com was so popular, companies would list their web presense on AOL under what was termed, "Keywords". You would type in a keyword, and this would return a site specific to that keyword. If no specific sites were found, the query would return a list of sites that may or may not fit. Even before then, there were curated lists and searching the internet would be done manually by people known as, "Gophers". Gophers would return back results that were usually hand picked. Out of this evolved the very first search engines, the most popular at the time were, Lycos, Excite, Yahoo, and who can forget Ask Jeeves. They all had their gimicks, schticks, and commercial advertisements. The first popular internet millionaires were the search engines. I mean, how else was someone supposed to find that, "Frog in a blender" flash cartoon everyone was talking about?

Recently I've been querying different search engines and exploring the results. The popular duckduckgo search engine claims that they don't track you. While this may or may not be true in the traditional sense, I've found the results to be rather concerning. When searching for my own name using a fresh browser with no cookies, history, or cache and using a VPN, the results are completely different then when searching after visiting my own site, and then querying my own name. This raises a bit of concern because not only am I seeing different results each time, they are tailored to what my browsing history contains and to what IP address I'm using. While there may or may not be a history of this stored online, one can only speculate what this means in the bigger picture of tracking.

Then there is Bing. Formerly known as Microsoft search engine, Bing actually has some decent results. You might need to go through a few pages before you find what you are looking for. That's okay because it feels more like a search engine instead of a answer machine. I wouldn't even compare Google and Bing because they are two totally different things. That's saying a lot. Most search engines are simple Google clones. The same results for Google will come back to a lot of other search engines verbatim. This is because Google allows its results to be used freely and publicly. That's why a lot of search results will come back saying, "Powered by Google". The internet has grown immensely. It is a large virtual jungle. Mapping it correctly is one heckuva task to say the least.

Then there is the task of sorting through the garbage. In the past, searching for a movie would return all kinds of results. Most of them being virus laden sites that promise free downloads to the movie. This has changed drastically. Most of those results wouldn't even yield anything substantial. There were so many clone sites that just had viruses embedded in the website, that would pop open an advertisement that would be impossible to remove off the screen. Unless you had some expanded knowledge on how to end tasks, a reboot was the only cure. Even after a reboot, popups would swarm the screen as soon as the PC was back at the desktop even if you didn't open the web browser. They would continue every 10 minutes or however long the virus timer was set for to open these sites. This was a way nefarious web developers would drive traffic to their sites in order to "cook the books" on their web traffic volume. Those kind of results have been pretty much exterminated at the time of this writing, October, 20th 2020. Rightfully so, I might add. These results did not even contain substance. They were merely keyword factories, the results of the search only pertained to the keywords and none of the content was even related to what the search term would be. Quite the monumental task, as there were so many of them.

Being a search engine isn't easy. Major strides have been made when cutting the trail through the virtual jungle that is the world wide web. The best search engine is a matter of perspective.