A Comparison of Google, AllTheWeb, and Excite

To the average user, most search engines may seem the same: the user types specific keywords into a box, clicks “go” or “search,” and receives a list of results – sometimes relevant; other times, useless. As much as they seem the same on the surface, though, search engines vary greatly in terms of how results are determined, the number of pages they index, and the quality of features they offer. Google, AllTheWeb, and Excite are three search engines that differ in several aspects.

Probably the most popular search engine currently running on the Internet, Google (http://www.google.com) is the preferred search tool of the technological savvy. This is mainly due to Google’s ability to find more relevant sites at a greater speed than other engines using the same entry (such as ‘American History 1850-1855’ or ‘Human Rights in Nigeria’). With the ability to get more information faster has made Google the number one search engine online.

One reason Google reaches more relevant resulting web pages than other commercial engines like Excite or AllTheWeb is that it does not use the typical keyword system to find web sites. Instead, Google uses Hypertext-Matching Analysis and PageRank Technology in its searcher. Unlike other engines, Google is hypertext-based, meaning it not only uses the key words but looks for how they are laid out on the page and the content of any neighboring pages to see if the page is relevant or not. PageRank Technology looks at how sites are linked together, with a page earning a greater rank based upon the number of links other sites have set to it. So Google just does not look for the keywords, but looks to make sure it is used in a suitable context throughout the page and that the sites found are well known and linked. Google also filters out similar finds, such as a page being repeated multiple times under a different address or several near-identical pages from appearing in the results. This keeps the user from being flooded by irrelevant, low grade, or useless results, thus saving time and effort.

Google offers other helpful features such as the advanced search in which the user enters limiting and expanding terms in order to narrow down the possible results. Google also offers options not available with other search engines, such as the image search engine, taking a key word and returning with a picture gallery of results. This is very helpful when searching for a particular image, graph, or chart on the Internet.

In addition toGoogle, one of the newer search engines on the World Wide Web is called AllTheWeb. This search engine, found at http://www.alltheweb.com, is quickly becoming one of the most popular. AllTheWeb has many unique features that help to make it one of the most unique search engines available.

AllTheWeb’s website has a very basic, no frills design which makes it very easy to navigate. It is ideal for people who are looking for a quality search engine, without an overwhelming number of images and advertisements. Powered by Dell servers, AllTheWeb provides the user with fast, comprehensive, and relevant results to any query. If the user finds that their search is returning too many results, there is an advanced search option which allows the user to exclude certain words or domains (such as .gov or .edu), limit the number of results per page, and turn the offensive conduct reduction on or off, based on the subject the user is researching.

Another appealing feature of AllTheWeb is that it allows you to specify which type of media you are searching for (web pages, mp3s, pictures, videos, or FTPs). And, if the user would like to keep up to date on what other people are searching for, AllTheWeb provides a list of the 5 most popular searches for that day. Also, for a more accurate search, the user can choose from a plethora of specific languages.

For those users who are less experienced with search engines and the World Wide Web, AllTheWeb provides a tutorial to show the best way to use their search engine. Also, they provide search tips to help the user achieve more accurate results. Another advantage of AllTheWeb is that each search will only provide one result per website. This avoids having a search that returns numerous web pages in the same site.

One of the most interesting aspects of AllTheWeb is that the user can choose a page from the list of results and do another search that will be restricted to that website. For example, if your query returns a page in ESPN’s web pages, the user could then restrict the next query to search only in ESPN’s web pages.

The easy navigation and numerous options make AllTheWeb one of the premier search engines on the World Wide Web. The problem is that it is not as well known as other engines such as Google or Excite. However, if AllTheWeb continues to provide quality results with limited images and advertisements, it will soon become one of the most well known search engines on the Web.

Unlike Google and AllTheWeb, Excite (http://www.excite.com) is both a search engine and a web portal. Like most search engines, Excite handles searching of web pages, news, photos, products, and audio. At the heart of their searching, is what they call “Excite Search Technology.” The Excite Search Technology has over 330 million pages indexed. When running a simple query, the search engine analyzes web page content, meta-tags, anchor text, and link popularity. Also, the index is constantly being updated and checked for dead links and duplicate pages. In addition to web searching, Excite offers searching of their web directory which is maintained and created by expert editors. This is usually used for specialized and specific searches, rather than broad undefined searches.

Excite supports all kinds of searching: from simple one word searching, up to Boolean operated text string queries. Excite gives you the ability to search specific indexes with their Precision Search by choosing to search in “web sites,” “news,” or “photos.” It also let you use “+” and “-” signs in queries to include or exclude words from searches. Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT can also enhance your search results with Excite. Results of your search are listed in order of decreasing relevancy. You are given the option of showing only the titles or full descriptions. Unique to Excite, you can “view by URL,” which shows the relevant links within the search results.

When comparing layout, Google and Excite are at two ends of the spectrum. While Google has an uncluttered, very simple interface, Excite has a wealth of more information on the screen. This is largely because Excite is a “web portal” where as Google is not. Excite also tends to have many more ads from various sponsors scattered throughout the site.

Probably the most differing aspect of Excite from other search engines, is their patented Zoom In technology. Zoom In technology lets the user refine their search query by suggesting similar and more specific search terms related to the original query. For example, if you zoom in on “computers,” you will get a list suggesting “computer wallpaper” or “computer games.” According to Excite, “Zoom In suggestions are compiled from analyzing millions of searches performed using Excite's Precision Search technology.” Also, Zoom In technology offers correct spellings for misspelled queries, a true savior to those who cannot spell.

With billions of web pages on the internet, the user must be able to intelligently and easily search for relevant pages. Therefore, it is imperative for the user to understand and utilize the different features search engines such as Google, AllTheWeb, and Excite offer in order to maximize the search process.