A Comparison of Four Search Engines for On-Line Genealogy Research
My evaluation looked at Google, AltaVista, GoTo, and HotBot.
I was surprised to discover that GoTo and HotBot produced virtually identical results. In fact, the only difference was in the way the results were presented. The individual web page descriptions and their order was identical!
The following searches were performed with each search engine:
"Theophilus Whaley" Hopkins
+"Theophilus Whaley" +Hopkins
Google does an AND search by default. This means that it looks for the occurance of every word in the search as opposed to any word.
Quotation marks refine the search for specific combinations of words.
The Google search results were:
Whaley Genealogy, 1,350 pages
+Whaley +Genealogy, 1,350 pages
Theophilus Whaley, 123 pages
"Theophilus Whaley", 17 pages
"Theophilus Whaley" Hopkins, 9 pages
+"Theophilus Whaley" +Hopkins, 9 pages
+Whaley +Obits, 250 pages
AltaVista word, on the other hand, does an OR search by default. It returns pages that have any of the search words in them as opposed to every word. The pages that have every word are shown first.
AltaVista searches can be focused fairly easily through the use of the plus symbol and quotation marks.
Whaley Genealogy, 2,924,200 pages
+Whaley +Genealogy, 4,638 pages
Theophilus Whaley, 71,985 pages
"Theophilus Whaley", 16 pages
"Theophilus Whaley" Hopkins, 251,256 pages
+"Theophilus Whaley" +Hopkins, 7 pages
+Whaley +Obits, 61 pages
Since GoTo and HotBot so very obviously use the same search engine, they will discussed together. They appear to do an AND search by default, returning pages that have every one of the search words in them as opposed to any word. Interestingly, though, in instances when the plus sign and quotation marks were used, the order of pages at the top didn't change, but the order of pages a bit deeper in the pile did change.
The minor difference between the two is that GoTo doesn't even estimate how many pages were found while HotBot, at least provides an very estimate of the number of pages. (see below)
Whaley Genealogy, "fewer than 1000" pages
+Whaley +Genealogy, "fewer than 1000" pages
Theophilus Whaley, "fewer than 100" pages
"Theophilus Whaley", "fewer than 100" pages
"Theophilus Whaley" Hopkins, 5 pages
+"Theophilus Whaley" +Hopkins, 5 pages
+Whaley +Obits, "fewer than 100" pages (actual total, 40)
(see conclusion below)
My preferences between these four search engines, based on personal usage, are represented by the order that they appear on this page. Based on the results, I would change those prefernces only slightly, swapping the third and fourth ones. Since GoTo and HotBot are virtually identical except for estimating the number of pages found, HotBot is slightly more useful, in my opinion.
All four search engines were successful in finding pages associated with the search criteria. An important point to note is that the actual pages found appeared to differ between the search engines. This may actually improve the possibility of finding information of value though general internet searches.
Apparel: Bugle Boy, Hanes, Jos. A. Bank, Simply Dresses, and more... Books: Amazon.com, RecordedBooks.com, Seekbooks.com... and more Travel - Priceline, Travelocity.com, Travelscape... and More Flowers- Florist.com ... and more Gifts - Hickory Farms,Giftbaskets.co m, Siss Army Depot... and more Health - PlanetRx, MDChoice.com ... and More