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3/98 Company Name Test

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3/98 Company Name Test

NOTE: Click Here for the most current Company Name Test

Go to your favorite search engine and enter a company name. What comes up? Ideally, you'd probably like to have the company's home page be listed at the top of results. Realistically, you'll probably get some pages from deep inside the company's web site. Quite possibly, you won't get any pages at all.

This is a particular challenge for search engines. They aren't really built for single word queries like this. But with some tweaking, they can deliver the ideal situation described above. That's a real benefit to the many non-web savvy people who turn to search engines because they don't know the web addresses of companies they'd like to reach.

Each of the search engines were put to the test for a particular list of names: those of the major search engines. Another fun reason to do this is that some "search engine secret guides" use a marketing spiel of how they have a search engine "defector" ready to tell you the secrets of getting to the top. In reality, the search engines themselves struggle as much as anyone else to be listed first.

A search was also done for three popular web sites, to help round out the test.

Keep in mind that there are many different ways to test search engines, and this page only performs one. In addition, it is not a good test of how well a search engine might perform for a search to which they are suited, such as for an obscure topic, or a multi-word query. So don't use this page as a sole judge of which search engine is "good" or "bad."

Scoring Information

100% Company home page was listed first. With Yahoo, this shows if the first category listed in turn lead to a page listing the company home page.
75% Company home page was listed among the top results.
50% Inside pages from company web site were listed in top results.
25% Pages from a secondary company web site were listed in top results.

The Results

  • Read across to see how well each search engine did for a particular term.
  • Read down to see how well a particular search engine did for all terms.
  • Bold shows how well a search engine did for its own name and highlights the averages.
  • Results are as of March 1, 1998

Term

AltaVista

Excite

HotBot

Infoseek

Lycos

Yahoo

Average

altavista

50%

100%

0%

100%

75%

100%

71%

excite

50%

75%

0%

100%

0%

100%

54%

hotbot

50%

75%

50%

50%

0%

75%

50%

infoseek

50%

75%

75%

75%

0%

100%

63%

lycos

50%

75%

50%

100%

0%

100%

63%

yahoo

50%

50%

50%

100%

0%

100%

58%

microsoft

25%

50%

50%

50%

0%

75%

42%

netscape

50%

75%

0%

50%

0%

75%

42%

geocities

50%

75%

50%

100%

0%

100%

63%

Average

47%

72%

36%

81%

8%

92%

56%

Notes About The Results

Human-edited Yahoo comes in first, though it is important to note that it usually lists the Yahoo category for the company first, not the company home page. You have to click on the category, then choose the home page from the results page that appears.

The true search engines don't have category listings, and so this test is harder for them to pass. Among these, Infoseek is the big winner, performing very well for most of the searches. Excite gets an honorable mention for usually dominating top results with pages from the correct web site.

Notice that not one of the search engines lists itself first for its own name. True, most people probably aren't going to search for the service when they are already there -- but it wouldn't hurt to make sure you were on top, just in case.

Also notice that none of the search engines gets a top spot for its own name across the board. So much for those "secrets" you expected them to have.

Shed a tear for AltaVista. HotBot lists the home page of AltaVista Technologies, http://www.altavista.com/. It looks like AltaVista, but its actually a company that has taken advantage of having the domain AltaVista Search should have obtained. The two have reached a legal agreement, thus explaining the big disclaimer on the AltaVista Technologies site.

Suggested Links

Excite, Infoseek and Lycos all have suggested links that appear near the raw search results. These are specifically designed to suggest alternatives to users for certain searches, such as the home page of a company, when its name is queried.

Excite calls its links "Try these first," and they appear in a box above the actual listings. Infoseek's suggested links run down left-side of the results, with company-specific links appearing in a "Best Bets" box. Suggested links on Lycos appear above the search results, in the "Related Topics" area.

Infoseek's suggested links did the best. It proposed the correct company home page 67% of the time. Excite came in at 61%, and Lycos trailed at 28%.


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