The quality of Google’s search results are steadily declining. I have been testing the Yahoo and MSN search for some queries in the last weeks and I have to say that they often have better results. I’m not sure if this is the case because Google’s algorithms are not as good as the Yahoo/MSN ones or if Google is more heavily targeted by spammers. I guess it’s a combination of both. I still won’t switch my primary search engine any time soon though.
The reason is simple: of the three major search engines, Google is the only search engine that has a newsgroup/Usenet search (Google Groups). Whenever I have a technical problem or programming question, I almost always find the answers in the newsgroups. The newsgroups are like a giant knowledge base full of postings about every possible technical problem/bug/configuration issue ever known to mankind and I cannot work without it.
I’m not sure why Microsoft and Yahoo don’t have a newsgroup search, especially because unlike indexing the web, indexing newsgroups should be relative painless. The only problem I see is that Google bought the Usenet archive from Dejanews some years ago. MSN and Yahoo therefore won’t be able to include all the old messages in a newsgroup search if they decided to offer such a feature. But you know what: I don’t care if some guy had a problem with Delphi 2.0 10 years ago. I’m mainly interested in looking up messages and answers from the last few years and I’m sure most people could live without older messages. The only thing Yahoo and MSN have to figure out is where to get the newsgroup postings of the last few years then.
In my opinion, the missing newsgroup search is really what’s holding developers and IT people back from switching to a different search engine. If Yahoo and MSN are really serious about increasing their market share in the search space, they should get their act together and offer a newsgroup search.