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  PC-Net's PC News - May, 2001
Don Watkins

All Search Engines Are Not Created Equal

By Don Watkins



May 2001--Almost two years ago I took a look at search engines and gave Google a thumbs up based on the technology used to generate search results. Since then I've continued to use Google and it looks like the rest of the world has as well.

Since then I've developed a deeper appreciation for another reason that Google consistently returns the best results and that may surprise you.

Rather than some secret complicated technology Google employs to ferret out data it's rather simple; Google doesn't charge web sites to be included.

What's this you say, you thought that all search engines crawled the web, indexed web sites, cataloged them according to key words and scored the results based on those keys? Not a chance, it's often based on how much the web site paid to be included or, in many cases, didn't pay and were excluded.

Oh, most sites will accept a request to be included for free but my personal experience is that the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

Let's take a look at the default search engine in Internet Explorer, MSN. Go to their submission request page and you'll find that the Express Submit program, which promises two day turnaround is $199. The basic program, with eight week turnaround, is $99. Not to pick exclusively on MSN AltaVista offers the same exact program and prices. Ditto and most other (but not all) search engines.

I don't have a problem with this, it's tough trying to stay in business without generating some sort of income, but don't be fooled that all search engines are created equal and when you're looking for a solution you'll want to be aware of this and use something that includes as many sites as possible; the answer is out there it's usually just a matter of finding it.

If you don't use (Yahoo search seems to use the same technology and database) and aren't interested in switching do be sure to check the "submit a site" entry on your favorite search engine and check their policy as they may be excluding sites that contain the info you're looking for.

Until next time, best in computing.

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