by Kenneth Rudich
Search engine developers strive to give each user query the most applicable response they can offer. They even rank the results according to what they perceive as order of relevance.
But with that said, it also should be noted that no two search engines work exactly alike…not in how they comb the Internet for information or in how they decide to rank it. For example, one search engine may downplay certain criteria, while another may include a variable the others ignore. These variations make it possible for the same query to produce different results depending on the search engine used.
Now let’s turn the tables and say you’re the one performing the search. Or maybe you’re a website owner, and you’re trying to get the best possible ranking in hopes of driving more traffic to it. Have you ever wondered how these variations among the search engines impact the relationship they have with you (or you have with them)? If perhaps one can consistently give you a better tailored search experience? Or if one regularly ranks your website more favorably than the others do? And if so, which among them is most ideal for you?
Thanks to a fellow by the name of Michael Kordahi, you can now quickly and easily get answers to questions like these. His free web-based application called BlindSearch allows you to compare search results side-by-side across all three of the major search engines.
Here’s how it works: You type in a search query, hit search, and then BlindSearch displays three unbranded columns of results. Next, you vote for the column which you believe best matches your query. After you’ve voted, it’ll reveal which search engine produced the results for each column. Hence the idea of a blind search — you see the results before you get to see who produced them.
The goal, says Mr. Kordahi, is to see what happens when the branding is removed from a search. In other words, you’re judging the outcome strictly on performance instead of brand name.
So here’s one question: will this approach change the way you perceive the results, and will it change your perception of which search engine is the best one out there?
It’s an interesting bit of consumer research from a customer experience standpoint.
are there seo implications
As the operator of a website, I’m more intrigued with the prospect of tapping this app from a slightly different perspective. Primarily, I wonder if it might be helpful from a Search Engine Optimization standpoint, especially if one were to use it as a tracking mechanism for monitoring and comparing SEO performance over time?
In this case, the goal is to uncover a small but strategically significant range of information. Specifically:
- How do my keywords currently fare across all three search engines? How does that compare with how they’ve fared in the past?
- How do my rankings compare against my competitor’s rankings across the three search engines? Are mine better on some engines while theirs are better on others? Who’s ranking higher than me, on what engines, and is anyone doing consistently better across time…across the board…or across a variety of keywords and phrases?
- Finally, can I improve my overall rankings based on what I see happening, or on what I observe others are doing to obtain their results? Can I get a better feel for how to fine-tune my SEO to achieve improved results across the differently branded search engines?
With these questions in mind, I began to play with this app to see what I might learn. In the next installment, I’ll report my findings.
Meanwhile, try doing your own test drive of BlindSearch with these questions in mind. Then let us know if you’ve come up with anything that either reinforces or debunks its value for improving the SEO of a website. Or maybe even offer suggestions for tweaking the app to make it more resourceful in this regard.
In the final analysis, give us your opinion on whether it’s a useful (or potentially useful) SEO tool or just a harmless source of amusement.