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Perfect Page Test: Criteria and Detailed Results

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This page provides more information about the findings reported in The Search Engine 'Perfect Page' Test article.

Test Scores

In the chart below, each column shows how well a different search engine performed for different terms in the test. A key and notes about the scoring appear below the chart.

Search Terms

GG

YH

MSN

ATW

INK

LY

ASK

AV

cable ship restorer

A

A

A

3

A

3

-

-

wemyss bay

1

1

3

3

3

3

2

2

cop jokes

1

1

1

-

-

-

1

1

genealogy

4

4

5

4

1

4

4

-

defense department acquisition

2

2

3

8

3

8

B

B

car prices

4

7

4

5

4

5

10

-

paper toys

1

1

1

1

1

1

C

3

potato information

6

3

2

2

2

D

2

4

trigeminal neuralgia

1

1

4

1

1

1

1

1

us patents

1

1

3

2

1

2

2

5

Total Score

9.5

9.5

9.5

9

8.5

8.5

8

6.5

Letter Grade

A

A

A

A-

B

B

B-

D

NOTE: For links to and more information about the search engines listed below, see the Major Search Engines page.

GG: Represents the scores found at Google. The Google-powered search engines of AOL Search and Netscape Search were not tested separately, but the "perfect pages" sought for each search term should have also appeared in their top results, so they would be entitled to the same score.

YH: Represents the scores found at Yahoo. Yahoo claims to "blend" Google results with its own information (see the Yahoo Renews With Google, Changes Results article), but our test showed that for these searches, Yahoo was essentially the same as Google. The only difference between the two was the position of the perfect page sought for "potato news," and this happened only because Yahoo does not carry Google's "indented" results, as explained in point R of Google's "How to Interpret your Search Results" help page.

MSN: Represents the scores found at MSN Search. MSN Search gets editorial information from three places. Its own editors add links to the "Featured Sites" area of the search results page (paid links may also appear here), while "Web Directory" listings come from LookSmart and "Web Pages" matches come from Inktomi. MSN gained credit if the perfect page sought appeared in any of these areas, as long as it was present on the first page of results for editorial reasons. Six of MSN's perfect page matches came from Inktomi (cable ship restorer, wemyss bay, defense department acquisition, paper toys, potato information), while four came from LookSmart (cop jokes, genealogy, car prices, trigeminal neuralgia) and one from MSN's own editor (us patents).

ATW: Represents the scores found at AllTheWeb.com, the search site operated by FAST. FAST also provides the same data found at AllTheWeb.com to Lycos. Because of this, we actually looked at what came up at Lycos and based AllTheWeb's scores off of that. We only actually checked AllTheWeb.com in one case where a no results found message appeared on Lycos.

INK: Represents the scores found from querying the Inktomi index. MSN Search does use Inktomi results, but as explained above, the average user may only get Inktomi answers some of the time. We wanted to see how well "pure" Inktomi results measured up against other crawler-based search engines such as Google and AllTheWeb.com. To do this, we used a "pure Inktomi" interface made available by one of Inktomi's paid inclusion resellers. However, the general public would get the same pure Inktomi results by performing a search via MSN Search's advanced search page.

LY: Represents the scores found at Lycos, which as explained above, uses information from FAST. Lycos is given its own column because in one case, it failed to find one of the "perfect pages" we sought, even though FAST did.

ASK: Represents the scores found at Ask Jeeves. The perfect pages we sought were always found in the numbered "You may find my search results helpful" results that come from Ask Jeeves-owned Teoma, so this score also is applicable to Teoma itself.

AV: Represents the scores found at AltaVista.

Search Terms

For each search term listed, we checked the search engine to see if the URL below appeared. For example, for "cable ship restorer," we looked to see if the first URL below was among the results displayed. For "wemyss bay," we looked to see if the second URL appeared in the results, as so on. Here is the corresponding URL list:

1. http://www.csrestorer.com
2. http://www.wemyssbay.net
3. http://www.angelfire.com/pa2/scanner/jokes/police/cops.html
4. http://www.cyndislist.com
5. http://www.deskbook.osd.mil
6. http://www.nadaguides.com
7. http://www.papertoys.com
8. http://www.potatonews.com
9. http://www.tna-support.org
10. http://www.uspto.gov

Scoring Notes

If the perfect page we sought appeared in the top results presented, the search engine was awarded a full point. The number on the chart shows the exact position where the page appeared, though the exact position had no influence on scoring. We simply wanted to see the perfect page somewhere in the top results. In some cases, we awarded half points, as explained below.

A: Inktomi and MSN Search returned a related page from the site in #1 position and Google and Yahoo returned a related page in the #2 position.

B: Though Ask Jeeves and AltaVista did not return results for the deskbook.osd.mil site, they ranked the "AcqWeb" companion web site from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics as the #1 search result.

C: Ask Jeeves returned a related page from the site in #9 position.

D: On the day the test was run, Lycos returned the message "no results found" for the query. Oddly, FAST, which powers Lycos, listed the target page in the #2 position. In later tests, Lycos also returns the page in the #2 position (half point).


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