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Search Engine Review

Reader rating: 8 out of 10


With dozens of search engines out there, which one do you use? This Feature How-To Article reviews Yahoo!, Altavista, Lycos, Excite and Google, helping you find the best search engine for you.

Search Engine Review

The ranking scale

Our overall ratings for search engines are shown below.

#1 - Google

#2 - Yahoo!

#3 - Lycos

#4 - Excite

#5 - Altavista

The story behind each ranking

#1 - Google

Google's interface is very simple, virtually without any advertising. When you type "" into your browser, the page appears almost instantly, a huge plus for any search engine. Search engines are supposed to help people get to information quickly, and Google does this.

Searching Google results in fast, accurate results. For example, running a search for "free computer training" resulted in very accurate, high-quality sites being listed.

#2 - Yahoo!

Yahoo! doesn't make it to our #1 spot on the list this time for several reasons. First, Yahoo! is more cluttered with very eye-distracting ads.

Some people don't understand that Yahoo! is made up of two systems: directory results, and search (Google) results. When you search Yahoo!, if any results from Yahoo!'s directory are found, they are displayed first. After that "Web page matches" are displayed. When we ran a search for "free computer training", the directory results were not very helpful to us.

Yahoo! does earn the #2 spot on our list, however, because of the fast and accurate searching of the Google database.

#3 - Lycos

Lycos received a #3 rating on our list for many reasons. Searching is usually very fast, while still returning accurate results. Another feature of Lycos that we liked was the "Popular Sites" listing. When you run a search in Lycos, the first results you see are "Popular Sites", which may help you choose a high-quality site to visit relating to your results.

The first page of search results is probably the most difficult to navigate through, which is the reason that Lycos has a #3 rating. Once you click the "[number] More Web Sites..." link, the interface is far less cluttered, and is easier to use.

#4 - Excite

Excite's search engine technology returns fairly accurate results. The one thing that gives it a low rating is the poor interface that is uses. Excite's homepage is far too cluttered, essentially trying to create a "My Yahoo!" type service on its main homepage. While you can hide the extra components, most people wouldn't think about it on their first visit.

Another downside to Excite are the "Sponsored Listings". These are listings that web sites pay for. The only problem is that the same "Sponsored Listings" are displayed page after page of search results, just making more clutter to navigate through.

#5 - Altavista

Altavista has something that many search engines are lacking: an easy to navigate, non-cluttered interface. If Altavista has such a great interface, why isn't is at the top of our list?

Altavista search results are not very accurate at all. For example, a search for "free computer training" returned some results that link to web design services and medical training. This was not what we searched for! Altavista can also be very slow at times, and also non-accessible at times.

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