Disclaimer: Google is my default search engine and I use the Google Toolbar.
If you use just one search engine, have you ever wondered if there's a chance your search results may be skewed? Or, if Google were to delete it's index of my blog, will it cease to exist? Of course, I will lost all readers who arrive from organic searches on Google but my point really is that there isn't a standardization on what a true search result looks like.
Consider this - I searched for 'Toolbar' on the top search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN Live, AOL Search(Powered by Google) and AltaVista) and the results show some internal tweaking - evident from the fact that the top spot in the results goes to the search engine where the search is performed (at least at Google and Yahoo) and not all can be true. A comparative analysis of the top 5 results is below.
Google's own toolbar gets ranks #1 and 2 while Windows Live toolbar gets rank #3. Yahoo gets ranks #4 and 5.
Yahoo gives itself ranks #1 and 3 while Google toolbar gets ranked #2 on the Yahoo Search results page. Conduit, a Toolbar Builder, is at #4 and AltaVista gets the #5 spot. Interesting to notice that Windows Live Search comes in at the 7th spot.
Windows Live Search gives the truest looking results this far by ranking Yahoo at #1 and 2, Google at #3 and the Wikipedia entry for 'Toolbar' at #4. The fifth spot is taken by Windows live itself.
AOL Search, being powered by Google, doesn't show results any different than the Google results themselves.
AltaVista reports Yahoo at #1 and 3, Google at #2, AltaVista at #4 and Windows live at #5.
So what's going on here? Does the search bot assign a higher rank to pages hosted under the same domain? Or is this an example of 'When marketing overshadows the product'? Moreover, is there a way to find out which Toolbar really is the most popular? Your comments please.