Based upon the potentially specious assumption that searching for the word “search” on a search engine should return a list of links to other search engines, I determined what the top 10 search engines thought were the top 10 search engines. I started with Google and determined the rest of the most popular list as I went along based upon what sites came up most often.
I was surprised at the variety of the results returned by the 10 sites (with the exception of Excite and Webcrawler, whose results are virtually identical). I was under the impression that the search sites had settled on two or three sets of data that were parcelled out by the likes of Inktomi.
As expected, Google appears on almost all of the lists. Google also gave the best results for what I was looking for. Out of the first 11 results, 10 were general Web search engines. Altavista was the worst by far. I had to dig through 26 pages of results to come up with 10 general Web search engines. The rest of the results were site-specific search engines of all shapes and sizes (like the search page for clorox.com). I think Altavista’s problem lies with how much emphasis they place on what appears in the <title> of a page. Yahoo, even though they use Google’s search technology, was pretty useless as well.
Special mention goes to AskJeeves. Although not one of the top 10 search engines, the results it returned were quite good, even better than Google’s.
Notes: Search engine results are from 6/4/02. I didn’t include paid listings (as much as possible) or results other than Web-wide search engines. Meta-search sites were also not included. Also, this is highly unscientific claptrap, but interesting nonetheless. Maybe.