Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Back to Google Web Search

I use a variety of Web search engines, but have been using Microsoft MSN/Live Search as my primary search engine for a number of years. My initial bias towards it was because it was easier to start a search by using auto-search by simply typing keywords into the Internet Explorer address box. Search bars came along, but I was not interested in cluttering up my browser. Then IE 7 added a search box next to the address box and even allowed you to both configure a different default search engine and to specify a list of search engines and choose from them for individual searches. I still enjoy the productivity of all these features, but that is independent of which search engine I specify as the default. Today I just switched from MSN/Live back to Google. Not that MSN/Live Search is not a competitive search engine, but I am more of a hard-core power user. The most recent two versions of MSN/Live Search have dramatically narrowed Google's technical lead for most users and will give great results for the average user, but I am not an average user.

Lately I have found that MSN/Live Search gives me decent results for two out of three to four out of five of my search queries, but for that one out of three or four or five I end up less than thrilled or wanting a second opinion and follow up with a Google search (and others sometimes as well.) But these are usually highly technical, non-consumer searches.

I did just run across a consumer search where Google comes out ahead. Search for your flight number by entering the two-letter airline code and the flight number and Google will actually give you the flight status right there at the top of the result page. MSN/Live does not do that. Yahoo does give you a shortcut link but doesn't actually display the status on the result page. That said, I would be surprised if Microsoft does not add that feature within a release or two.

Another reason I am switching to Google is that even when MSN/Live Search does give decent results, I frequently want to see what results pop up higher on Google simply due to search engine optimization (SEO) that focuses primarily on Google. In particular, I want to verify that my own Web and blog pages are ranking as high as possible since Google is still the #1 search engine.

Although I am no longer a Microsoft employee, I am still a shareholder and I do believe that MSN/Live Search really is a seriously competitive search engine for "normal" users. I will be periodically checking search query results on MSN/Live Search to see how they are progressing and will keep them on my "search provider" list in IE, but Google is now my default search engine.

Incidentally, IE 7 is still my default Web browser, but I do have Firefox and Safari installed on my system as well.

-- Jack Krupansky


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