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Mobile Search iPhone Dance-Off: Google vs. Bing vs. Yahoo vs. Wolfram|Alpha

michael-martin
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wolframalpha-bing-yahoo-google-search-app-iconsRecently, PCWorld had a mobile search face off between the search apps on Android, so it’s only fitting that the iPhone follows behind with one too – taking a look at features like multitasking, copy paste, voice search, making consistent phone calls and even still with widgets, 4G, NFC, and more.

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Since I have a known allergy to all Apple devices, my colleague Aaron Farr from the Covario SEO team, performed the mobile search dance off with his iPhone.

The mobile search engine app “Dancing with the Stars” contestants are:

  1. Wolfram|Alpha
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo
  4. Google

We’ve gathered these four search engines in order to test the top four searches pulled from Google Trends beginning in April:

  1. NHL
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. Instagram
  4. Zerg Rush

Wolfram|Alpha

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Wolfram|Alpha works by using its vast store of expert-level knowledge and algorithms to automatically answer questions, do analysis, and generate reports.

From the beginning, you can see that Wolfram|Alpha is neat, clean, and gets straight to the point which is also why it’s the search engine behind Siri.

It works by interpreting your input and generating the results for you by indexing web pages, then looking for textual matches, and finishes with a list of links to follow.

It’s more of an information calculator and therefore works best when searching for sports scores, dates in history, and conversion queries.

Wolfram|Alpha also accumulates search results that can be added to a chart that can be touched to show more in depth data.

The history option saves searches and personalized preferences to narrow down search results along with the ability to download the data.

Although this search engine isn't the best for shopping or finding a cheap hotel, it is a unique way to search for statistical data and a great way to find answers that might not be answered as quickly with other types of search engines.

Not to mention, this search engine is very tech geek friendly, which we all know makes a number of us happy.

Side-by-side search comparison:

NHL

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Search results consist of information about the domain nhl.com (i.e., web hosting, web statistics for nhl.com, site rank and HTML element hierarchy graph).

The search states that the results are based on the assumption that “NHL” is an internet domain and gives you the option to assume it is a hockey topic. However, if you do, it only says that that topic is under investigation. So if you are looking for scores or player stats this is not the place to search.

Game of Thrones

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This search results in two different assumptions:

  • That Game of Thrones is a book and gives the author, publisher and publish date along with some related search queries comparing with other books.
  • That it is a television series and gives the network, air dates, episode run time and number of episodes.

It also delivers an image of the show’s intro graphic and a list of the cast members.

Finally there is a related query comparing it to a few other TV shows.

Instagram

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This search delivers a “development of this topic is under investigation" and that is all you get.

Zerg Rush

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This search gives you a result using Wolfram|Alpha’s closest interpretation of the search. Thus, it's just a dictionary look up definition of the word “rush” as a noun. Also it delivers first known use in English, word origin, frequency in history (shown in a linear scale).

This is all followed by a long list of terms like inflections, synonyms, antonyms, narrower terms, broader terms, rhymes, lexical words, anagrams, and phrases. It continues on with notable uses, crossword puzzle clues, scrabble score and phone keypad digits.

This is a great example of how Wolfram can be an excellent engine for data searches. Each break out allows you to dive deeper into that result.


Bing

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Right away, you'll see that Bing is much more visually appealing than its counterparts, with its black and white interface complemented with beautiful photo wallpaper.

In front of the wallpaper, you will find 12 links in white text that allow you to search Images, Videos, Maps, Local, Deals and Movies that are visible from the home screen. News, Shopping, Directions, Travel, and Weather can be found by scrolling further down.

When tapping the camera icon in the search bar you will find Bing Vision, which allows you to search via camera. It has the ability to search and scan barcodes, Microsoft Tag, or QR codes. Next is a cover search, which allows you to take a snap shot of a CD, DVD, book cover or video game box, and search based on that picture.

Finally, the text search allows you to search based on words that are highlighted on screen that Bing recognizes from the photo. This is by far my favorite feature. An additional voice feature completes a search based on dialogue into your microphone.

Bing offers clean, easy to read results that can be sorted by all, news, videos, images, shopping, local and deals. Bing is an adequate and very visually stimulating search engine.

Side-by-side search comparison:

NHL

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This search brings up results for the latest game score in National Hockey first and then lists the latest news headlines. Right after that you get a large SERP for NHL.com with links to conference, standings, scores, stats, division and schedules. You also get a NHL GameCenter app download link for quick access.

At the end, you get some NHL related video links from hulu.com and image search results followed by related search suggestions.

Game of Thrones

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First up is the news result, including a post about it being the top pirated TV show. Then you get the actual HBO site page for that show with links to cast, episodes, shop, videos, baelor (the ninth episode of Game of Thrones), and about.

After that, there are App results for IMDb and TV guide. At the end, you can shop Bing for the book and movies, check out some Bing images, and do a related search.

Instagram

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The first two results are app results for Instagram app and Textigram. Then you get to the instagr.am with links to the about, FAQ, edit account, coming soon, jobs, and blog. Lastly, there are news results and related search suggestions.

Zerg Rush

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This search comes up with Wikipedia, know your meme, and Urban Dictionary definitions at the top followed by image results. After that there are a bunch of links to related content, which ends with related search terms.


Yahoo

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Yahoo search has a very different look from the others.

The rich HTML5 results of the new design include Image and Video results.

It offers a tab-based interface that displays “trending now,” followed by a series of tappable search queries topping the Yahoo search trends at the time.

Tap the magnifying glass in the search bar and narrow the search by Web, Images, Local and News – significantly fewer options when compared to Bing.

However, if you tap the pin icon to the right of that, you get a large list of local search options, such as Restaurants, ATMs & Banks, Gas & Automotive, Lodging, etc.

You have the ability to switch “safe search” on and off and go to the desktop view of Yahoo search.

Yahoo is a bit overwhelming with searchable options, which makes it a little difficult to decide what you want to do. You might not find exactly what you're looking for in a hurry.

This iPhone search app does what it is designed to do, but it is far from being an exciting service.

Side-by-side search comparison:

NHL

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Yahoo delivers Shortcuts first. They include an image and a direct link Yahoo sports and yahoo sports photo gallery. Then there are two categories, overview and latest updates with links under them. Overview has scores & schedules, standings, teams, and stats. Latest updates shows news, transactions, blog and videos.

Then you get to nhl.com which is followed by more Yahoo short cuts to Yahoo News results. After the second batch of Yahoo Shortcuts you get other news sites and Wikipedia. It finishes off with the “also try,” which is the same as Google suggestions.

Game of Thrones

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With this search the first thing that comes up is News results and it tells how long ago the news article was posted. There is a button to search more news, if that's what you're looking for.

Next you get the official website with links to crew, episodes, shop and videos. After that there is Yahoo Shortcuts, but in this case it just a link to a website that has information on the show and recaps of recent episodes.

Wikipedia is next followed by even more Yahoo Shortcuts for blog results.

Finally, there are links to TV guide, HBO and other television networks – all followed up with images and “also try.”

Instagram

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This one had the iPhone App link right up top with the website Instagr.am. There are a couple links below this for about us, coming soon to Android, and FAQ.

The rest of the results are pretty basic with Wikipedia, iTunes, and blogs. Lastly, the “also try” has some long tail keyword alternatives.

Zerg Rush

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Unlike the others, this search gives image results right at the top with Wikipedia plus some links to strategy, mobbing, fighting games, and CCGs. The rest of the results are basic, except the one for engadget.com has a thumbnail image link in the SERP. This is the first time this came up in the search results during the research.

engadget-thumbnail-image-zerg-rush


Google

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Google still comes out as the best overall, one-stop shop for search.

In look and feel it mirrors the desktop version, making it easier on users with no additional learning curve.

It starts with the five tabs at the top for Web, Images, Places, News and More for filtering search queries. You can tap out a search, take a photo, or run a voice search. There are icons along the bottom of the screen to do quick location-based searches, so you can find what’s nearby in a certain category with one tap.

Also, just like the web version, you can tap the Google icon to the left of the search bar and see the dropdown for further search filtering.

This dropdown includes Images, Places, News, Shopping, Videos, Blogs, Discussions and Books.

Along with this feature, you can also tap “More” to the right of the quick filter search tabs to gain access to those search queries. You can also access Google’s other apps like Google +, Docs, Translate, Calendar and many more.

Side-by-side search comparison:

NHL

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Google brings up “NHL Games” first, which highlights recent hockey games showing teams final scores. If the game has not yet been played, it shows the date and time of the game.

After that there is NHL.com with quick links to scores, playoffs, shop, video, teams and schedules. Following that you get NHL news links and a bunch of other common sites like Wikipedia and sports sites. At the bottom there is “pages similar to www.nhl.com” and “searches related to nhl.”

Game of Thrones

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This search results leads to the official website right on top with IMDb followed by Wikipedia. News for Game of Thrones is next in line and Amazon follows up with a link to buy the music.

A few links follow that like a Facebook link, plus fan sites. Google images is next and then shopping results. Related searches gives a list of eight long-tail keyword searches you can choose from.

Instagram

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Instagr.am comes up first with App Store and Google Play right after. Wikipedia, blogs and social networks take up the next section of real estate with news results to follow. Finally, it’s all summed up with similar pages and related searches.

Zerg Rush

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Knowyourmeme.com gets in first with image results right below. Next up is news and Mashable followed up by YouTube video links. Wikipedia get in there with some blog sites and some links to Starcraft and Battlenet for the gamers. It’s all summed up with related search terms.


Takeaways

Wolfram|Alpha is a simple and unique search engine, but not the best if you need a specific thing fast – unless you are trying to solve a math problem of converting centimeters to inches.

Bing is easy on the eyes and very user friendly, but doesn’t seem to populate solid results as well as Google. Bing was my favorite after Google because it was was user-friendly when navigating searches.

Yahoo is busy and boring. Plus, it doesn't have the ability to compete with Google’s results. It does have a lot of the same search filtering as Google, but lacks the easy to use iconization that Google has adopted, making it harder to find the right one. When scrolling down for searches, the search bar goes up with it and you have to swipe a number of times to get back to the search bar to search again.

We leave the ball in your court. However, after this test run, we still prefer Google, which is even faster and easier to use directly from Android phones – especially those with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.X versions, which have a default Google search tab at the top of your home screens.


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