Search engines are odd beasts, I tell you.

A few months ago, when I was trying to decide which search engine API to use for the search box on this site, I did a few tests and realized that MSN Search was probably the best choice for a site-specific search box at the time for a couple of reasons. About four months have gone by, so I decided to do a quick re-evaluation of the big three (Google, Yahoo!, MSN), and found that things have changed quite a bit since then. Read on.

First, I tried the good old "desktop search" and "ski-trip" queries again on the three search engines, and was pleased to find that the actual WDS review page comes up as the first result on all three of them now, as it should. Great! The "ski-trip" search gets more interesting though. Google does the best here, listing two of the three NYC ski-trip picture gallery links right on top, which is precisely what I would want people to see first (although having the third page in there too wouldn't hurt!). MSN is the runner-up this time, listing only the second page of the gallery at the top, which I thought was rather odd; listing the first page would have made more sense here. Yahoo! falls behind in this test, listing the first page of the gallery, but only as the very last search result.

The freshness tests had to obviously be changed this time. The last post about the shoutbox hasn't appeared in the results of any of the three search engines yet. Makes sense. So I tried looking for "gravatars" to see if the May 30th post shows up in any of the results. MSN and Yahoo! find nothing this time, while Google lists both the index and archive pages in its results. Excellent.

Like last time, I did some more varied tests on all three engines, and again found that the results were mostly consistent across the board. Google came out as the top dog this time, with MSN still doing better than Y! in most cases. I'll be observing the results and playing around some more during the next couple of days to decide whether I need to switch things around. Fortunately, all three search APIs are quite similar to each other, so pulling out MSN and plugging in Google or Y! shouldn't take much time and effort. :)