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Teachers Say That Google Is the 3rd Best Search Engine???
May 3rd, 2011
Pre-note: We encourage criticism of our experiment so that we can improve it the next time we conduct it. Please comment below, if you can think of any improvements.
As you might remember, we were challenged to justify our recommendation of Google. As an industry leader, we trusted Google to provide us with the best search results. Since 2002 we have recommended Google as our search engine of choice. How could we make such a recommendation without having any data to justify it? Ms. M, a teacher from Maryland, brought this to our attention.
See how we set up this experiment.
To settle this we gathered just over 200 teachers to rate the top 10 results from the top 5 search engines. We haven't seen such any experiment anywhere before. Mostly likely because search rankings change daily, if not by the minute.
The teachers basically graded the value of each web search result based on what they expected to see from the search. We compiled the web sites for the teachers. Teachers had a drop down rating menu above each web page and they chose a score from 0 to 100 (best) in increments of 10.
Teachers Rated The Top 10 Search Results For These Phrases (exact case):
Group 1 - water cycle lesson plan
Group 2 - writing worksheets
Group 3 - Thanksgiving Kids Crafts
Group 4 - Lesson Plan Template
Group 5 - Establishing Class Rules
Group 6 - Parent Teacher Conference Forms
Group 7 - Middle School Report Card Comments
If you would like to see the actual web sites that the teachers reviewed, please check our data page.
The results were completely surprising. We expected Google to consistently provide the best web search results. According to our teachers this was only true 1 out of 7 times. Bing consistently outperformed Google’s results.
Dogpile, a meta search engine that pulls their results from both Bing and Google, had the best overall ratings. Dogpile had a knack for always choosing winners from both Bing and Google. Here were our overall results:
5th Place – Ask
4th Place - Blekko
3rd Place – Google
2nd Place – Bing
1st Place – Dogpile
While Dogpile did produce consistently great results, please be aware that we just provided our teachers with the organic search results and did not include the ads that they throw in there. If you look at Dogpile’s web site and perform a web search, you will notice that about half of the results are ads. This didn’t sit well with our teachers.
When the testing was complete, we asked teachers to view the actual search engines themselves and rate the user friendliness of the sites. We were trying to ascertain which search engine teachers felt most comfortable with.
Here is a complete review of how the teachers felt about each individual search engine.
Which Web Search Engine Are Teachers Most Comfortable With?
5th Place – Dogpile
4th Place - Ask
3rd Place – Blekko
2nd Place – Bing
1st Place – Google
From our discussions with teachers we came to the conclusion that they felt most comfortable with Goggle because:
1) it was their search engine of choice. Most teachers used it more than 10 times per day on average.
2) the interface of Google makes it very easy to read and use.
This experiment proved to be an eye opener for us. We will definitely need to further consider our search engine recommendations for the future. Since search engines are constantly updating and re-tooling, we expect to undertake this experiment semi-annually.
Again, if you have criticism of our experiment, please comment below. We would like to increase the validity of this process for future experiments. One thing we will be doing in our next test is to include Sweet Search. It would be good to see how the search engine results of a web site focused for educators compares with traditional tools.
Comments From Educators:
October 3rd, 2012 10:20 am
Wild ideas here guys! Thanks for all the great thoughts! Yeah, Google isn't that great any more. It reminds me of Alta Vista. Alta-who?
July 7th, 2011 4:08 pm
I have to say that Bing has definitely gotten better relative to Google. I don't know if Google just got worse or Bing improved. Some of the results out of Google have 1 relevant page out of 10.
Nessa Reed- Bobcat Elementary
July 5th, 2011 9:19 pm
I have to say Google really has had some bad results lately. I have all but given up on them. What happened to them?
July 5th, 2011 8:13 am
Man have Google results gone bad. I'm looking for a new search engine over the summer. Guess I won't be Googling anything anymore. I have felt like I had to do a ton more searching since 2011 hit. At least it gives me something to do in the summer. But I am going to have to find a search engine to depend on by mid-August.
June 21st, 2011 12:38 pm
That saves me. Thanks for being so sensible!
June 16th, 2011 12:57 am
Looks like you guys really added a bunch of new work to your site. It looks great! This test of yours was really cool. I wish I could have been involved sounds like a great deal of fun.
May 12th, 2011 11:05 am
We stopped using Google a while ago because a number of viruses our school got through google results. We haven't missed it. Been using Bing for over year now, virus free. I see the world is finally catching on.
Teresa Myers - Killington Prep
May 8th, 2011 7:00 am
You guys always have the most interesting pieces. I am floored that my favorite search tool did no do well. I'm going to test out the other 2 tools that did well, this week. Thanks for the tip! BTW- Love your facebook, I wake up every morning to some great ideas.
May 8th, 2011 6:34 am
Wow, this is super interesting. I never heard of Blekko before. After seeing your results, I understand why now. It is surprising how poorly Google did.
May 7th, 2011 6:16 pm
Just had to say cool boxing glove picture guys! When are you guys going to make more Youtube vids? I miss them.
Jeff R. - Fort Myers
May 7th, 2011 5:41 pm
---------- Reporting Back From Earlier Comment---------------- We replicated the experiment based on the search results you had posted. We had 23 teachers in our computer room do it. Not as sophisticated as your setup, just paper and pen. I just crunched the numbers. Google, we have a problem! I took those nasty virus sites out, which did contaminant the data a little bit. Here are our results 1) Dogpile 2) Bing 3) Blekko 4) Google 5) Ask. Honestly, Ask is a complete waste of time. If you do this again, just scrap that site; it was super-mega-ultra bad. Wow! I didn't believe it at first, but you're right Google is not playing on the same level as Bing. That is embarrassing! They are probably to focused on selling ads and not delivering good results.
Jerry - Newburgh Schools
May 7th, 2011 5:32 pm
Dogpile does look very promising, outside of the gazillion ads that come with it. Since Google went public, their results have gotten worse by the year... Bing's are close and sometimes better, sometimes worse. It's like the new Pepsi challenge Bing or Google. Too bad we haven't seen a commercial on it.
Terri, March of Dimes
May 6th, 2011 3:32 pm
This is extremely interesting. I have to concur with the results. The Google results, in general, have gone way downhill since about Christmas. Back in April, I was checking up on some tax stuff (yeah fun!) and Google brought to all these sites that looked exactly like the IRS's sites, but looking at the web addresses they were fakes. On one site my Antivirus started going crazy and blue-screened my computer. I haven't used Google since, except for my phone. I don't know what they did, but all the searches include lots of fake sites.
Debbie - Dewers Elementary
May 6th, 2011 6:04 am
Dogpile really? It's loaded with ads like you guys said. You are right that Google results stink. I think they are just trying to keep searching and searching so their is a greater chance you click on their ads. Since the new year started, Google has just gotten worse. Our school is listed on Page 2 of the Google results when you type in the full school name and the zip code, that's how bad it is. Bing has our school as number 1 doing the same thing. Google is starting to remind me of Alta Vista. Really good for a long time and then one day, you had to spend more time on it to get anything useful. I forgot about them a year after that. Well, our relationship might have come to the end Google. We had some good times.
Jeremy - Tuscon
May 5th, 2011 5:32 am
Finally, somebody said it! I have noticed for quite some time that using Google has been pointless for anything not geographically related. I remember getting better results when the web first became publicly available.
My students and I had a discussion about this about a month ago. I started exploring other options. Dogpile does like interesting. I'll give them a shot and see how it works out. Please leave the comments open, so that I can report my findings back.
Avery - Lawrence MS
May 3rd, 2011 8:55 pm
You guys are right on the mark with this one. I happened to need "Middle School Report Card Comments" just last week. I reviewed the results and the ratings of your teachers. They were spot on. What great work! Looks like I'll give Bing a chance now. Looks like a lot of teachers will be giving up Google for lent, in their students best interest.
Jeff R. - Fort Myers
May 3rd, 2011 10:42 am
I went through and reviewed the first search you guys posted "water cycle...". I have to say I complete agree with the ordering of the winners on that one; for sure. I'll have to go through the others later after school.
What a great job you guys did! I have always wondered this too.
I'm leading a teacher in-service next week. If you don't mind, I'd like to replicate this and see if we get similar results. Please let me know if that be acceptable.
We encourage you to replicate this. The more data, the better. Let us know how it turns out for you.
Ms. Combs - Mikey Elementary
May 3rd, 2011 7:44 am
I knew it! I made the switch to Bing last month. I do think that Bing has saved me a bit of time. Especially the image searching part. You might want to compare image searching too. As teachers, we are constantly looking for good diagrams, images and pictures.