Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

One of the terms I hear often when people talk about search is relevance – which I interpret to mean the ability of the search engine to return the result you actually want. To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this. Like most everyone else, I’ve been using google for a while, and the results were quite acceptable.
When amazon.com launched a9.com, I switched to it immediately because I was able to get the best of both worlds - it was serving up google’s results, plus giving me a small additional discount on may amazon.com purchases.
Last week I noticed something funny though – the search results I was getting didn’t seem as helpful as I had come to expect. In some cases I would type in a search term that I knew should quickly bring me to a particular site whose URL I had forgotten, but it wasn’t on the first or even second page. I couldn’t figure out what might be wrong. Then I took a closer look at the a9.com page – the web search was now by live.com – which I guess is the beta for Microsoft’s new search. I then retried some of the searches that frustrated me on google, and sure enough – the sites I was looking for were right there near the top. Google also proved much more understanding of spelling mistakes than live.com – a good thing since spelling is not my strong suit.
I don’t know what the future will bring in the search engine wars, but this is the first time that I’ve really had my nose rubbed in the fact that not all search engines are equal – and Microsoft indeed has a long way to go.