The True Power Of Search Engines
- Jun. 15, 2005
This is a true story.
If you live on or near the west coast of
North Americayou likely had a stressful hour or so this past evening.
This is because a tsunami warning had been issued for all coastal areas between the California/Mexican border and
We were watching a Seattle TV station at the time – it was about 8:15 when they interrupted the show we were watching to inform us of the tsunami warning. But there was very few details other than an earthquake happened off the coast of
and there was a warning issued. We had no idea who was affected or for how long. California
So I decided to see what the net had for information.
My home page at home is set to my personalized Google page and I quickly scanned the headlines there but there was no mention of the tsunami.
So I went to my My Yahoo! page next as I have lots of news sources there as well, but still nothing. Since I was on Yahoo! I decided to perform a search just to see what came up. I was initially going to search the Yahoo! News site, but I did an organic search first. I searched for “
tsunami warning” and I was shocked to find that the original warning issued by the US National Weather Service was in the #1 position. California
Here I was trying to find out more information, such as more details, who was affected and so on, and here was the actual original warning, just issued a mere 25 minutes beforehand already appearing in the organic search results, at the #1 position.
From this bulletin I already had more information than the news service on TV appeared to have – I knew it was a 7.4 magnitude quake that happened 90 miles off the northern
I even knew that if there was going to be a wave, it would first hit the
coast at about 8:40 and would work its way north and south. California
I was concerned because I have relatives who live on
Vancouver Islandon a houseboat, so I read further and found that their area would expect a wave around 10:20 PM – that would give us enough time to call and warn them in case they hadn’t already heard.
So, within the span of 5 minutes of finding out about the tsunami warning – a scant 25 minutes after the warning was issued – here I was looking at it in my internet browser.
My curiosity struck me, so I quickly went to Google and performed the same search and found the same result – also in the #1 position. Not so in MSN – it was #3 there. A more general page on tsunami warning systems was #1. The same general page was #1 on Ask Jeeves as well, but the warning bulletin was #2.
Overall I must say I am impressed with the search engines to know that this page is extremely important. All the main engines had the actual warning bulletin at or near the top position. All had it in the top 3 positions.
Previously I had written articles expressing my concern with the relevancy (or in some cases the lack thereof) of the results when performing broad matches. When I was in research mode it was difficult to find what I wanted.
Even when I was performing local searches I found it difficult to find what I wanted. As you can imagine I was becoming somewhat frustrated with where search was going.
But to see a crucial piece of information on the search engine when I needed to see it, reassured me immensely. Sure search has a way to go yet, to become what I’d like it to be, but it is getting closer.
It really must be difficult for those that run search engines to balance improving results with maintaining loyal users, after all the internet is a place where things happen in milliseconds. If your page doesn’t load within 5 or 6 seconds you can lose a visitor.
A home page can by changed with a few clicks of a mouse button. Entire web browsing habits can be switched within seconds and it could take years to undo it.
I’m sure MSN realizes that they should own much more of the search market, but people grew fed up with the results as they were. My father still has his home page set to MSN but the first thing he searches for is “Google” and then navigates the web from there. He doesn’t use MSN because he’s found that it doesn’t return the results he’d expect.
So, based on what I observed last night, performing the searches I did, I was very impressed with both Yahoo and Google because they had exactly what I wanted exactly when I wanted to see it.
Upon review of the situation I find it was also interesting that my first search was done on Yahoo! and not Google. I am a big Google fan – having a Gmail account, and a personalized Google homepage, and having used (or am using) almost every new product that they have released.
Yet at home my search and browse habits changed quite substantially. At work, I am a professional searcher. It is my job to know and understand how search engines work. At home that knowledge didn’t seem to affect my judgment.
Or did it?
Head Organic Search Strategist
Search Engine Positioning by Searchengineposition
Enquiro Full Service Search Engine Marketing