Ask vs. Google – An Observation of Search Results

Posted on in Blog

I have always considered it a good idea to use multiple search engines when performing a specific search. Since most search engines provide differing results, it just makes sense to me to utilize more than one source to find the best results. I get my news from more than one source, why not my search results?

But when I’m short on time (as most of us are) I tend to fall into a rut of using just one search engine to get a quick answer or make an impulse purchase. For the most part, my engine of choice has been Google. But recently I find myself calling upon Ask to answer my daily searches. Since the dismissal of Jeeves, Ask’s results have been more… satisfying. Coincidence?

Regardless, in the interest of Search and search engine users everywhere, I have decided to perform an off-the-cuff comparison of Google and Ask search results. Specifically looking at the web site that holds the #1 position.

Sidenote: I have purposely avoided opening the Pandora’s box of “search engine tools comparisons”. Aren’t there enough of those critiques (and promotions) out there already. My intent is to focus strictly on the engine’s bread and butter – web search results.

I believe there are 3 basic forms a search can take: Educational, Commercial, and Recreational. So I’ll start there:

1. Educational Search: Split Pea Soup Recipe

Ask #1 –

* Recipe on First Page
* Simple Design/ Easy to Read
* “Return to Recipes” Text Link – Since this is my landing page I can’t hit the Back Button

* None come to mind

Google #1 –

* Links to many Split Pea Soup recipes
* Rating System (4 out of 5 Stars)
* “You Are Here” Breadcrumb

* Ads, Ads and More Ads – “Your Are a Winner” Flash Ads – Those annoying “Where are your friends from high school” ads – Pop Up Ads – Google Adsense
* Red Background Color makes for unwelcome feelings

Winner: Ask – I personally prefer simplicity, not overload, when looking for a quick answer, or recipe in this case.

2. Commercial Search: Easter Bunny Costume

Ask #1 –

* Page is Focused on Easter Costumes – Even tells me when Easter is this year

* Unprofessional Site Design
* Only 1 View of Featured Costume

Google #1 –

* More Professional Design (but barely)

* No real info about easter bunny costumes except for a clipped off image of some bunny costumes (which links somewhere) and 3 text links scattered across the page that read “Easter Bunny Costumes”
* First text on page reads: “Mardi Gras 2006 Parade Calendar” Isn’t Mardi Gras over?

Winner: Ask – Call me crazy, but I like to have useful info pertaining to my search on the first page I land on.

3. Recreational Search: Fred Sanford Favorite Sayings

Ask #1 –
Google #1 –

Winner: It appears we have a tie “You big DUMMY!”

Overall, I believe Ask produced the more useful results for this minuscule sampling of possible searches. And frankly, it’s good to see quality results coming from another search engine besides the market leader. Search on.

Disclaimer: In the words of Michael Feldman’s guests, “All questions are painstakingly researched, though the answers are not.” Which means, all opinions expressed here are personal.

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