From the smoke and rubble of the failed dot-com-bubble era emerged 3 contenders for the search crown. (4 if you count that interesting blip on the radar – Ask) Each hungrily stockpiled features and tested innovative ideas in hopes of building an arsenal that would grant them superiority.
Like the real life cold-war, smaller web properties began to be enveloped one after another as the search engines grew their empires through alliances, partnerships and corporate buyouts.
Google Steady Front-Runner
Today Google, Yahoo and MSN (and Ask… no seriously) still practice a sort of civil warfare, as they continue to fight for search supremacy. In terms of percentage of use, Google enjoys a healthy lead over the other contenders, and it’s popularity only continues to grow.
Despite big investments and valiant re-branding efforts, neither MSN or Ask have been able to turn the tide in their favor. While all of the search engines have invested a great deal of time, effort, and resources to come out on top, Google is clearly the most popular and frequently used search engine.
So, what has Google done that the others haven’t? Perhaps it’s not what they HAVE done, as much as it is what they HAVE NOT done.
Homepages Key to a Search Engine Success?
While Yahoo & MSN have steadily introduced more and more content into their homepages, Google has adopted a wholly different approach. Despite many acquisitions, niche market expansions and feature innovations of their own, Google’s homepage remains largely unchanged over the years. Could this be the key to their success as the worlds top search engine?
The Google Homepage
The Google homepage is, as it always has been, simple & uncluttered – keeping it lightening quick and super easy to use. New features and additional links are cleverly integrated into the simple user interface, with little or no effect on the speed & usability of the page.
Over the years the process for performing a search on Google has not changed. This consistency allows repeat users to be as comfortable & confident using Google today as they were 5 years ago.
The Yahoo! Homepage
The Yahoo homepage has grown more cluttered over the years as they began to steer away from the directory-centric design and adopted the content portal model. Today the Yahoo homepage lacks the simplicity and ease of the Google homepage.
The MSN Homepage
To their credit, in 2006 Microsoft recognized the problem and set about to solve it. Microsoft has perfected the art of copying genius..er I mean “relying on inspiration”, so it was no surprise when they tried to immolate the Google formula.
However, despite their desperate (and costly) efforts to re-brand to their cleaner, faster, more reliable ‘Live’ search engine, MSN (Live) remains well behind Google & Yahoo, and continues losing ground every month.
A Search Engine’s Homepage is a “Factor” in Success
While a search engines homepage layout is by no means the sole factor (or even perhaps the largest factor) in thier success, I believe it does play a role. A page that is used frequently needs to be quick loading, easy to use, simple to operate, and work consistently over time.
All of these elements are effected by the homepages content &layout. Of the top 3 search engines, Google’s homepage is the cleanest, quickest to load, simplest to operate and has been the most consistent in it’s function over the years.
It’s no wonder Google is a trusted resource when it comes to search.
What’s your opinion?
Of course there are many other factors including relevancy of the results, authority and trust – but is a search engines homepage a key factor in it’s success or failure.