Search Engine Showdown: Google vs AOL

I think it’s safe for me to say “shea right – if i hate AOL Search as much as I despise AOL the ISP, this article will not be favourable to AOL in any way, shape or form”.

Let the games begin.

AOL Search fails to render properly in Google Chrome

AOL Search fails to render properly in Google Chrome

Wow off to a flying start here, boys…. </sarcasm>

The second thing to peeve me off is that AOL Search doesn’t have a search provider exposed in their meta-data. So I have to create one for myself. Fortunately, Chrome makes this pretty easy, but that’s not the point – You guys are providing a search service. Irrespective of how shit it may or may not be, FFS at least make it easy for me to *TRY* and use your product?

…all this, and I haven’t actually started using it yet. How ominous. I’m hoping that the little “powered by Google” actually means “we cant do search anymore, and have given up. Here’s one which does it better”.

……………

One week (maybe a little more) has passed and well, lets just say i’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be. Mainly because AOL search really does seem to be effectively a wrapper around Google. As an example, I searched the hottest topic going around on the tubes at the moment (the effects of socialism on post-war Germany), and most of the results were the same, except that Google also listed a result to its Book Search service. Apart from little things like that, these two are inseparable. Even AOL’s image search is just a face-mask over Google Images.

The design of the page leaves a little to be desired however, as AOL shamelessly place advertisements on the top of the page in an attempt to drive click-throughs. My ad-busting eyeballs detect this easily so the placement of the ad isn’t so much the problem. The problem is that they have sneakily set the length of the HREF for each paid link to be the full width of the page, which means by clicking in what should be “blank space” you trigger the link and click-through the paid ad. Naughty, naughty.

All said and done, I couldn’t help but realise I just commented to a colleauge without realising that I’m finishing up this post so that “I can go back to using Google”. I guess even subconsciously I find any experience outside Google’s to be less than engaging.

On a final note, The Wolfram Alpha didn’t launch as soon as I was hoping it would, so there’ll be a week’s rest where I go back to Google, before trying out the new kid on the block on 18th May. Yes, I am aware of the broad misrepresentation of Alpha being as “Google killer” but it would still be fun to try :)

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