My friend Robert Scoble and I were talking the other day. Ultimately the conversation turned to that famous guy top, i.e. “who’s bigger”…as in whose ego?, nah, but rather as in who’s got more listings of their name at Google.
I was fascinated by the fact that I could type my name at Google, enclose it in “quote marks”, i.e. “Buzz Bruggeman”, and Google would come back with 24,100 mentions in less than .23 seconds! This made for a great parlor trick, and one when I was pitching ActiveWords always dazzled those in attendance.(Frankly it dazzled me too!)
Not to be out done, Scoble showed me that he’s 20 times more important at Google than I am, weighing in at 499,000 mentions in less than .18 seconds! (Wow, I thought I am impressed!) I knew he was on a roll, but this is a lot.
When I got to the MSN Search Champs event, I found an opportunity in the Q&A, raised my hand and asked, “How come, as in how come if you guys, i.e. MSN have this great search crawler technology are the numbers so different? I mean, as in further, I know that Scoble is famous, but why the differences?”
I didn’t really get any very good answers, but I knew that it was somewhat unlikely that there were 4,079 mentions of my name on the Web, let alone 24,100.
About a day later, one of the smart guys working on the search team grabbed me over lunch and said look at this….
On Google, when we get to this page, you find that Google either doesn’t have or doesn’t choose to reveal more than 1,000 results. When I did the same exercise with MSN, they had or chose to reveal about 509 results, approximately half of what Google returned.
So, is there a method to this madness? The cynic in me says there is, and here’s how it might work:
1. Someone shows you a vanity search on Google, i.e. how many times is my/your name listed?
2. The results show a lot, and you are amazed!
3. You then show off this little parlor trick to your friends, and while you are amazed, they are even more amazed! Further you figure that as a result of the appearance that Google’s search must be a lot deeper and better….and…
4. Because you are the geek in the group, and because you either know or ought to know what you are doing, they are impressed, and they figure that if the results are this different;
5. And both of you tend to use the search engine that brings back the greatest number of results, assuming that quantity always equals quality.
Hence Google wins the battle of the egos, and gets a lot more mindshare!
I plan to ask a friend at Google the classic question, i.e. “what’s up with this?”, but for the moment I am beginning to think that both Scoble and I have drunk too much of our own Kool-Aid, and the numbers on either engine aren’t quite as real as we would like them to be!“ My take is that the MSN numbers are beginning to look a lot more like reality.
Another friend of mine opined recently that Google was doing a great job of portraying themselves as a more trustworthy company. I hadn’t even thought about this point. Maybe they are or maybe they aren’t, one would never be able to tell from the numbers above, but one would be able to tell, that what you see isn’t really what you get!
Go through this exercise, and I would be curios as to what you might come up with?