We thought it would be fun to take a walk down search engine memory lane and look at what some of the search engines from the times before Google’s domination are up to these days. Remember the days when the search industry wasn’t dominated by Google or even the combination of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft?
I’m going to look at results for the same query across each one just as a comparison. I’ll use the classic “level 4 brain cancer” query that we’ve looked at on Google various times throughout the content farm/Panda update discussion this year.
We first used this example to show where non-authoritative information was being surfaced for important health-related queries in Google, prior to the launch of the Panda update.
Ask Jeeves was founded in 1996, and eventually became Ask.com, although it’s still Ask Jeeves in the UK. While there was always an emphasis on Q&A, this is very much the case these days. Here’s what it looks like:
AltaVista was founded in 1995. Eventually it was purchased by Overture, which was taken over by Yahoo. Last year, Yahoo indicated that it would be shutting AltaVista down, but so far it is still live, delivering Yahoo results with an AltaVista logo. Here’s what it looks like:
AlltheWeb came out in 1999. It was eventually bought up by Overture, which was taken over by Yahoo. It was just earlier this year that Yahoo simply started directing it to search.yahoo.com.
Excite was founded in 1994. Ten years later it was acquired by Ask Jeeves. Now it’s owned by IAC, which also owns Ask. Here’s what it looks like today:
Lycos was founded in 1994. In 2000, it merged with Terra Networks to become Terra Lycos. In 2004, Lycos was sold to Daum Communications. In 2010, it was sold to Ybrant Digital. Here’s what it looks like these days:
HotBot was launched in 1996 by Wired Magazine, and is now owned by Lycos. Here’s what it looks like these days:
Infoseek was founded in 1994, and was eventually bought by The Walt Disney Company. It then was rolled into Go.com, but has been replaced by Yahoo’s search, which is interesting, considering that Yahoo’s search has been replaced by Bing. Here’s what it looks like:
The results (they simply redirect to Yahoo search results):
WebCrawler is a metasearch engine. It launched in 1994, was bought by AOL in 1995, and sold to Excite in 1997. Infospace acquired it in 2001. Currently its results pull from Google, Yahoo and Bing. This was actually my go to search engine before discovering Google. That seems so long ago. Here’s what it looks like today:
DogPile is similar to WebCrawler, and is also now owned by Infospace. It was launched in 1996. Here’s what it looks like today:
Mamma.com, a metasearch engine, was launched in 1996. The company eventually purchased Copernic, and changed its name to Copernic Inc. In 2009, Copernic sold Mamma.com to Empresario.
There’s currently a message on the Mamma.com saying that a new version is on the way. Here’s what it currently looks like:
The moral of the story: a lot of search engines think eHow has the best result for “level 4 brain cancer”. That includes Bing and Yahoo. Google is going with Harvard’s MGH Brain Tumor Center for its top result for the query. Blekko is going with Cancer.org. DuckDuckGo is going with medical-answers.org.
When was the last time you used any of these old school search engines? Let us know in the comments.