Pontiac G6 Image Search – A Search Engine Challenge

I set out last night to put the image search functions of Yahoo, Google, MSN’s Live Search, and Ask to a challenge. Which engine would give me the best experience?

This is a blog entry on purely subjective like or dislike. Part of my goal was to pay attention to my immediate reactions once each search engine returned its image search results.

All I needed was a keyword phrase to type in to start my challenge. As a normal evening goes at my house, it wasn’t long before something came up that needed to be searched.

The search topic revealed itself to me when I learned that someone I know was in the process of getting a new car. The car my friend plans to lease is the Pontiac G6 hardtop convertible. Perfect! I wasn’t sure what the car looked like, but wanted to know immediately. Thus the search engine image search challenge began. The challenge ended up surprising me more than I thought it would.

For my image search challenge I used the following keyword phrase:

pontiac g6 hard top convertable

As you can see, I misspelled “hardtop” and “convertible”. Go figure. I’d rather not chalk it up to my failed spelling abilities, but instead look at the reality that thousands of misspelled words are typed into the search engines everyday.

I think the most interesting thing that came from my challenge was the way the four major engines handled my misspellings.

You would think the search engines would handle misspelled keywords similarly. They do, but really only when it comes to their web search listings. The big difference I found was the way the engines handled misspelled keywords in the image search listings.

I concluded my image search challenge on this key point.

The winner? I liked Google the best because it did offer to correct my spelling errors, but at the same time gave me a healthy page of images, and many were of the very object I sought.

Yahoo, MSN, and Ask all stopped me, made sure I realized I couldn’t spell, and forced me to click one more time before they were willing to give me the images I sought. Sure they were all relevant once I arrived, but why did I have to feel stupid in the process? Why the forced extra click with no images at all?

I thought I had failed to click the image search tab in each case. After all, if I click the images tab I expect some images no matter what. With the way people clomp around and rummage through the web, it doesn’t seem like the best idea to tell them how stupid they are, when you can just give them what you pretty much know they want.

Here are the respective searches with screen shots (click to enlarge) so you can see how horrified I was when 3 different search engines returned a page that merely let me know I can’t spell. Well, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask, I already knew I couldn’t spell very well. And to Google, thank you for showing me some cool Pontiac cars.