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Worth Remembering for the Google Addicted

Chris Sherman, points to a new study that shows that the various generic web search engines (the big 4), have even less overlap in their results than in previous studies and that’s not much overlap. You can find his posting here.
Just how unique are the results on each engine? On average:
73.9% of Ask Jeeves first page results were unique to Ask Jeeves
71.2% of Yahoo first page results were unique to Yahoo
70.8% of MSN search first page results were unique to MSN search
66.4% of Google first page results were unique to Google
Hmmmm.
The study looked at results listings for more than 485,000 first page search results. First page results have two key qualities that are important. If I remember my old studies something like 98% of ‘ordinary’ searchers do not go past the third page of results and 95% don’t get past the first. Also, the first page is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for search engine optimization (SEO) consultants – those folks who attempt to ensure that their clients’ pages (not just their ads or sponsored links) show up on the first page of hits by using a wide range of techniques and strategies.
The study also found that:
84.9% of total results are unique to one engine
11.4% of total results were shared by any two engines
2.6% of total results were shared by any three engines
1.1% of total results were shared by any four engines
It’s worth a quick read and the questions I would ask about our library strategies would be:
1. We offer many databases for searching inside the library’s walls and many for virtual access through our websites. I think that we can safely assume that the ‘quality’ information in our licensed resources has even less overlap with the public web content acessible through searches.
2. I think we can also assume that few hits in our licensed resources are being manipulated extensively by marketers and SEO experts.
3. Many of our library websites choose to offer our users a link to one or more of the popular search engines. With such little overlap in the search results (which could be driven by the sorting or search algorithm or by the web harvesting differences or even by the timing of the scrapes for the search index)should we be preferring a metasearch engine like Dogpile or building our own using federated searching technologies and OpenURL resolvers?
4. Can we get better service delivered to our users by combining OPAC results seamlessly into web searches? Our experience at SirsiDynix is that OPAC use goes up exponentially when users ‘trip’ over the results in a federated search instead of having to ‘remember’ to use the rich OPAC, usually a library’s most vauable asset when meaasured by investment over time.
There are a lot of questions here and the answers may be quite different for different types of libraries and commnunities. It’s also interesting though. You can review stuff about Sirsi SingleSearch or Sirsi Resolver on our website.
Stephen

Posted on: August 5, 2005, 5:56 pm Category: Uncategorized