Search Engines Compete for Olympic Audience

The Olympics are here again – the age old tradition of torch lighting and athletes competing for the gold. But athletes aren’t the only ones competing anymore. Search engines are battling it out to see who can point searchers to the best coverage, the most in-depth information, and the most recent video of the Olympic games in action.

I decided to take a look at what exactly Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask are serving up to Olympic searchers, and determine which search engine gets the gold. Let the games begin!

Ask

When searching for Olympics on Ask, the first result is the official Beijing 2008 Olympics website. Included beneath this link is a helpful drop-down list where you can refine your search by sport. From this list select a sport, such as beach volleyball, and you get TV listings for when and on what channel your sport is being aired.

Back to the first search result page. Ask also provides links pointing to event schedule, medal count and upcoming Olympics. On the right hand side of this page you can find images of Olympic medal winners. There are also links to news articles and a link to an encyclopedia definition of “Olympic Games” that takes you to a Wikipedia page.

Yahoo!

Searching for Olympics in Yahoo! reveals a variety of results, including a link to the official Olympics web site and to the Beijing Olympics page of Yahoo! Sports. There you can get up-to-date coverage on athletes, different sporting events, and shortcuts to the current medal count, news coverage, and videos. Currently, Yahoo! Sports provides about 350 different videos about the Olympics, the first displaying some very enthusiastic fans and a story covering ticket scalpers.

Yahoo’s homepage also displays some news stories under the Featured tab, and, at times, some pretty interesting Olympic oriented graphics around its logo.

Google

While Google’s logo has been covered in cartoon animals posing as Olympic athletes (monkey gymnasts, diving pigs, and a slam dunking Chinese dragon), the results returned from an Olympics query are a bit more reflexive of what is going on in Beijing right now.

Google offers a current medal count right on the results page, as well as a PPC link to Google’s Olympic homepage, which includes a link at the top of the page to a Google gadget. The gadget allows you to keep track of Olympic events, medal counts, and news via your iGoogle homepage.

Google also offers Olympic coverage through a YouTube Summer Games channel featuring news, recaps, and different aspects of Beijing. And to round it all out, Google also offers a mobile site: m.google.com.

Back to Google.com. Searching for one sport in particular? Simply type it into the query box (you may need to include the Olympics qualifier) and Google will return the score of the most recent game.

MSN Live Search

Before even performing a search MSN’s Live Search greets you with a photo of a recent Olympic event. Today it’s baseball. Beneath the photo is a link to recent news articles outlining up-to-date wins and feature stories about athletes like Michael Phelps. Above the fold on the same page is a selection of videos. Hovering your mouse over the thumbnails gives you a preview of each video. Judges may deduct points due to duplicate video clips, but all of this is available before you even search for Olympics.

Back to the Live Search homepage. After searching for Olympics, Microsoft provides a medal count table along with updated Olympic information through a partnership with NBC. Links to NBCOlympics.com are sprinkled in the results. Clicking over to the NBC site, you can find a complete listing of the medal standings.

And the Gold Medal goes to…

In my opinion, the search engine that displays the most information and provides the easiest access to medal coverage, videos, and news articles is Live Search.

However, I do believe Google gets a very close Silver Medal due to the variance in its results and the different outlets the engine offers to track and keep up with Olympic events.

Please feel free to submit your judge’s ruling!