Ask Sourcing Ninja: Why Use Different Search Engines?
Dear Sourcing Ninja,
I’ve just started a new role as a Sourcing Specialist at an established Recruitment Agency. While they have a strong recruitment knowledge base, they have decided to open a new in-house sourcing function to leverage this growing trend of internet research. Although I’m new at this, I’ve found some researching tips which preach using difference search engines to find information. Aren’t all search engines the same – Why can’t I just ‘Google’ it?
Before we delve into how search engines differ, let’s first take a look at what is the internet and how it works.
The Internet is essentially a network of networks. It’s a mass conglomeration of computers spread across the globe, all networked and accessible to one another. Each cluster of webpages is found on a domain (e.g. www.webaddress.com) which in turn is physically stored on a server. The Internet is made up of billions of these servers all connected to one another. [See: here for video explanation]
So now we take a look at how search engines actually work and explore the differences. When you type in a search term into a search engine (e.g. “Project Manager”) – you’re not actually searching ‘The Internet’ per se, but rather portions of the Internet that are indexed the search engine’s database. Here it becomes a little trickier: Search engine’s send millions of spider-bots to trawl through various webpages to index the information stored on them. Crawling from one webpage to another via hyperlinks, their job is essentially to categorise the entire Internet… But the Internet is so HUGE that they can only capture a portion of it.
Basically, this is where search engines differ as search results are only as good as the size of the search engine’s database and how well they categorise the information they collect from which you search from. Using the keywords you entered in your search, they check how many times these words appear on a particular webpage and give higher relevancy to websites that are highly connected to other websites via hyperlinks. Depending on the search engine’s algorithms, i.e. how they index and deem how relevant webpages are, you will get different search results. [Here’s a good video that explains all this from Google].
NB: This is why a website’s SEO ranking is unaffected by flash content.
So in essence, you can’t just rely on one particular search engine because the search results will differ from one another. Take for example you used the same search terms on Bing, Google and Yahoo!, the Venn diagram below represents the search results you’ll get from each of the search engines:
The shaded areas are the results that are shared between each search engine with the darkest area representing results shared by all three. As you can see there will be instances where the search results will be similar between each search engine but there are can also be stark differences between them. Not to mention that their algorithms will push different results to the first page.
NB: The above diagram is merely used to highlight that there is a difference between each search engine and does not accurately portray the differences in results.
I hope that gives you a better idea and all the best with your new role!
[Image from Wikipedia]