It's been done before, but Gord Hotckiss takes a fresh look at what comes up tops for a search for "search engine" at, well, various search engines in his Of Serendipity and Search Engines article at MediaPost.
Is Google tops for that query at Google? Nope, it's some small web site no one's every heard of called Search Engine Watch or something like that. Now obviously I'm not going to disagree with that result, but Gord thinks maybe Google itself might want to rise higher than fifth place, certainly above the former search stars Lycos and AltaVista that currently outrank it.
Over at Yahoo, the big Y! puts itself first. Ah, but that's almost certainly because Yahoo appears to hand manipulate some popular queries as I've written about before and we've discussed (here and here) in our forums recently. That's not always a problem, by the way. Many times I wish Google would do some hand review of its results. As I posted recently, MSN used to do this, and it was a strength they've given up.
At MSN Search, Gord doesn't find MSN Search coming up tops, but over at Ask Jeeves, he's please to find them ranking themselves tops.
In the end, using his patented GordRank algorithm, Gord creates a list of the top search engines based on search engines themselves. Google comes in tops, followed by AltaVista.
To compare Gord's experience to the past, check out Chris Sherman's What's the Best Search Engine? article from 2003. I also used to do a somewhat similar spin on this seeing how the search engines ranked themselves for their own names in my Company Name Test. Ah, those were the days!
And for some past history on the idea of search engines making themselves tops for their own name or those of competitors, check out this News.com article from 1999: Lycos's loop has users reconsider rivals.