The Pandia Search Engine Awards 2004

Note: This is archived version of original post. Please read more about it at bottom of article.

(February 21 2005) Welcome to the 2004 Pandia Awards for the best search tools, search oriented sites and search engine documentation!

The guests have arrived, the orchestra have tuned their instruments, the audience is seated and the jury has delivered its verdict.

The best all round search engine

Google wins again

Yes, the winner is Google, again. Google continues to deliver good search results. Moreover, it continues to innovate, giving users tools that are genuinely useful, not only marketing gimmicks.

We especially appreciate Google's support for advanced searching. The Google cheatcheet describes some of the more advanced operators.

Google's major problem is search engine spamming, i.e. webmasters that use illegitimate means of achieving good search engine rankings. Google's main tactic has been to reward web pages with real content and a lot of incoming links from popular "authoritative sites".

Now internet savvy webmasters generate pages that do contain "content", this being text stolen from other sites or directory listings fetched from the Open Directory and others. Ironically, they often produce these pages in order to display text ads from Google's own ad network: Adwords.

The large number of automatically generated pages also affects other areas. Try for instance searching for the company home page of a hotel. Google seldom presents this page as the number one result for a search for the hotel name and location. Instead it presents a large number of booking sites that allows you to book a room at the hotel. They are all legitimate and relevant, but not necessarily what you were looking for.

So this is where Google is most vulnerable. If any of its competitors finds a better way of handling spam, they may be able to deliver search results that are better than Google's.

Runners up

Indeed, Google is meeting stiff competition in this category. Both Yahoo! and MSN have developed new search engines lately, both of which deliver decent search results.

Old timer Ask Jeeves (powered by the Teoma search engine) may not generate the same number of search queries as the three big ones, but the site does provide some very useful search tools, indeed.

Look out for Gigablast

The Gigablast search engine, the little sibling of the big majors, has launched a new index containing some 1 billion web pages. The new database has also been significantly updated as regards freshness of content, making the search engine a real alternative.

Gigablast was founded by Matt Wells in 2000, and is now powering several search sites, including Clusty, Snap and Blingo.

The best metasearch site

A metasearch engine is a search site that gathers listings from several search engines and directories and combines them into one list of results.

Normally metasearch engines will give pages that have a high ranking in several search engines a boost in the metasearch ranking. This makes sense, as many such high rankings may be considered a vote of confidence.

Given that the search engines and directories do not cover the exact same areas of the Web, metasearch engines may also give you a broader reach of the Net.

ixquick up front

There is actually, a large number of metasearch engines out there (see the list at the bottom of our metasearch page), but only a few of them bring real added value The design and coding is often bad, and the results are filled with pay per click text ads. There are some notable exceptions though, ixquick being one of them.

We like ixquick because it is simple and easy to understand. Each search result page presents alternative search engine queries that lets you focus your search. You may select which search engines ixquick should include in its results, and text ads are clearly marked as sponsored results.

ixquick is developed for professional researchers, and will normally translate boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT for search engines that support advanced searching. it will not forward such queries to engines that so not understand such operators

Highly recommended

There are several other high quality metasearch engines out there, and whether you prefer one to the other is often a matter of taste. The Pandia Award winner of 2002, ez2www remains a very good and powerful search tool.

You may also want to look at Profusion and Vivisimo's new Clusty metasearch engine.

Pandia's own metasearch engine has, of course, not been considered for this award.

Best site on searching

Search Engine Watch, a giant

Someone once asked us why we constantly praised Search Engine Watch, the site being a competitor of Pandia.

We argued that Search Engine Watch and Pandia are not as much competitors as sites that supplement each other.

(Anyway, if we stopped informing our readers about sites that are relevant to their needs, they would probably stop visiting us).

The fact is that Search Engine Watch is a treasure trove of search engine related information and advice. The founder and main editor of Search Engine Watch, Danny Sullivan, has also hired two of the worlds foremost experts on the search engine scene, Chris Sherman and -- lately -- Gary Price, providing a very strong team of writers.

Among the more recent additions to the SEW site are the SEW Forums and the SEW Blog.

Highly recommended

Although it is not as often updated as before, Greg Notess' Search Engine Showdown remains an important source of search engine information. This is the place to go to find obscure search terms and other tips on advanced searching.
Look out for...

Wendy Boswell is now editing the web search section of About (once controlled by Chris Sherman of Search Engine Watch).

This section continues to have a lot of useful information about search engines and search engine optimization, especially for beginners.

(However, there is just too much advertising on About these days.)

Among excellent non-English sites, check out @-Web (German), Abondance (French), Voelspriet (Dutch) and Internetbrus (Swedish).

See also Pandia's list of non-English sites focusing on search engines.

Best site on search engine marketing

Search Engine Watch, encore

Search Engine Watch is one of the few sites that cover the arts of Web searching and search engine promotion equally well. The amount of information is staggering, even if you do not pay to get access to the fee-based, closed section of the site. (You should, though.)

Danny and Chris have contacts in all the major search engine companies and are up to date on all the major developments in this part of Cyberspace.

Highly recommended

Another informative and useful site is Search Engine Guide.

Behind its rather bland appearance is hidden a large number of informative articles, written by search engine optimization experts from all over the world

Search Engine Guide also offers an excellent search engine news service and a directory of search sites.
Look out for...

Andrew Goodman's Traffick with a K has been around for ages, and provides a lot of insightful information on the search engine scene.

Best search engine discussion forum

Webmaster World rules supreme

Brett Tabke has managed to gather an impressive number of internet savvy search engine experts at Webmaster World, professionals as well as non-professionals.

This mix of highly competent people leads to a lot of interesting discussions with a wealth of interesting information. We gladly admit that some of the news messages found at Pandia has been triggered by messages found at WMW.

This is definitely the place to go to hear the latest rumors, fresh search engine news and detailed analysis of the latest trends.

For a while it seemed like some of the good discussions were in danger of being lost in endless discussions about the latest Google index update. We are glad to say that this does no longer seem to be the case.

The Webmaster World home page includes direct links to some of the most interesting news and discussions, making it easier to go directly to the best of the best.

The site's own search engine is not very efficient, though. We normally use Google to search the site, using the following syntax:

search keyword

Highly recommended

There are actually quite a few search engine forums out there, so many in fact, that one might questions the need for all of them.

We have come to the conclusion that choosing the right forum is like finding a local pub or bar that appeals to you. These are after all places for friendship and networking.

Hence you may find a lot of useful information and advice at forums like High Rankings, I Help You, cre8asite and the mother of all search engine forums, previously named -- eh, well -- Search Engine Forums (now VP Forums.).

At all of these forums you will well respected experts contributing with insightful comments and recommendations.

Look out for...

When Search Engine Watch decided to establish a new discussion forum, search engine experts took notice. Would this become the forum that dethroned Webmaster World?

Well, that hasn't happened yet, but there is a lot going on under the various topics presented in this forum. The fact that Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman and Gary Price take actively part does not hurt either.

Like webmaster world SEW Forums caters both to the need of researchers and marketers. The search engine marketing scene is dominating, though.

Best publication on searching

Tara Calishain: Web Search Garage

Tara Calishain is one of the most respected Web search experts in the world, so when she publishes a book, searchers pay attention.

Her new book, called Web Search Garage, takes a new approach to web search tutorial writing.

This is not primarily an introduction to the ins and outs of the various search engines (although she will tell you how to use them), but a book with a wider scope.

She goes beyond the traditional search engines and tells us about a lot of tools and techniques that will let you harvest the information you need on the World Wide Web.

To give you a few examples: The book includes an excellent chapter on the use of online tools and gadgets, including toolbars, bookmark organizers and browsers. Another one introduces you to the art of using online communities as a source of information, including tips on searching the Usenet.

We like this book very much, not only for the fact that she has introduced us to online resources even we at Pandia didn't know about, but for the fact that she gives us such useful hands-on advice on how to use these various tools.

This is probably the best book on web searching available today.

Tara Calishain's internet site Researchbuzz

Highly recommended

Edward N. Baylin and Judith Gill have written an excellent introduction to internet searching called Effective Internet Search

The amount of information is staggering. There are chapters covering search tools and strategies, search query basics, search examples, and advanced search interfaces. However, the text never gets too complicated, and the book will benefit both professional researchers and web search beginners.

The so-called Reference Manual is just as important as the regular chapters, as it lists the search features and parameters of the search engines covered and gives examples on how to use their search form interfaces.

There is also a large number of external references and links.

The book exists both in a printed version and as an ebook. Given that there are close to 600 pages with text, you cannot read it all on the screen, and the ebook cannot be printed.

Hence you definitely need the printed version of the book. The best option is to buy the printed book as well as the ebook. You can then use the ebook as a reference tool, and get the best out of the hyperlinks found in the ebook.

Best publication on search engine marketing

You can achieve a significant improvement in search engine rankings if you do some basic fine tuning of your site and your pages. And better rankings leads to more visitors, i.e. more potential customers or loyal readers.

In our experience it is useful to start studying search engine promotion by reading a thorough introduction to the topic.

Should you then decide not to go on with the work, and hire a search engine promotion expert instead, you can use what you have learned in order to determine whether this expert actually is what he or she claims to be, i.e. a true expert.

Unfair Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars

The award for best publication on search engine marketing and publication 2004 goes -- again -- to Planet Ocean for their Unfair Advantage Book on Winning the Search Engine Wars.

The Unfair Advantage Book gives you easy to understand information on practically everything regarding search engine and directory optimization and promotion.

Moreover, it is updated monthly, so if you feel like it you can print out a new version on the 1st of every month. This is important, as the search engine industry changes so fast, that what was common wisdom one month a go, may be considered folly today.

Highly recommended

Mike Grehan has written a very extensive, high quality, guide to search engine marketing, called Search Engine Marketing. The Essential Best Practice Guide.

This is a veritable encyclopedia of search engine optimization and promotion. While there is probably too much detailed information for the beginner or the impatient reader, the book should be of great use to SEO professionals and others that would like to know more on the science of how search engines work and how to optimize your site for good search engine rankings.

It says a lot about Grehan that he includes a brief history of search engines and a detailed description of the various modules of a search engine. Search engine algorithms are explained in detail, giving you a better insight into how search engines "think".

Moreover, there are reviews of online SEO resources, books, and interviews with search engine representatives and experts, as well as practical tips on how to write copy, design sites and optimize HTML files.

Best weblog on searching

Gary Price's Resourceshelf

Yes, we are talking about the same Gary Price that is working for Search Engine Watch. He also has his own weblog, called Resourceshelf, that provides useful information on search engines and information resources.

This is, of course, exactly the kind of information librarians and professional researchers are looking for.

The fact that these categories are listed one after the other makes the weblog a little bit hard to navigate, and the site might probably benefit from more clearly delineated sections.

Highly recommended

Tara Calishain, the winner of our award for best book on searching, is also the editor of Researchbuzz, a weblog that was started way before the term "blog" was introduced.

It started out as a newsletter, and you can still get your weekly dose by mail.

Needless to say, there is a lot of useful input here, on search engines, online databases and other information resources.

Look out for Sitelines

Look out for Sitelines -- Ideas about Web Searching, a blog featuring news on search resources.

If this isn't enough, you could also take a look at LISFeeds, a site that gathers library news headlines from 174 library blogs.

Best weblog on search engine marketing

The number of weblogs devoted to search engines and search engine marketing is growing by the day, proving once and for all that the world has discovered the importance of the search engine industry.

Pandia's own list of relevant weblogs, the search engine's own blogs included, now contains more than 30 entires!

An the winner is: Search Engine Journal

Search Engine Journal is a very sober weblog, making it a little bit less informal and less personal than some blogs.

The entries also tend to be a little bit longer, making it look more like a news column than a "proper" blog.

However, this is probably one of its strengths. It brings you all the essential news, as well as more extensive analysis, reviews and "how to" guides.

Search Engine Journal gets the Pandia Award 2004 for best search engine marketing weblog for bringing the facts in a transparent way.

Highly recommended

Andy Beal can be found thinking aloud about search engines and search engine marketing at The Search Engine Lowdown, always a good read.

Another search engine expert that it is worth listening too is John Battelle. His blog contains "thoughts on the intersection of search, media, technology, and more".
Look out for...

As mentioned above Danny Sullivan, Gary Price and Chris Sherman at Search Engine Watch have started their own search engine blog. How can they go wrong?

Pandia's own search engine weblog has -- of course -- not been considered for the blog awards.

Best desktop search tool

2004 saw the birth of a large number of search tools designed to search your own computer.

Given that the search tools in Windows, Office and Outlook are suboptimal to say the least, this new software makes it possible to find documents and emails fast and effectively.

All the major search engines have launched their own free search software ready for download, and you can read more about all of them in our review of desktop search tools.

Copernic gets the award

However, this years winner is not one of the search engine giants, but Copernic, which in our opinion has delivered the best Windows tool for finding files and emails on your own computer.

Copernic Desktop Search searches Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, Acrobat PDFs, Outlook emails, and all popular music, picture and video formats. Copernic also searches your browser history, favorites, and contacts.

In order to find the information you are looking for, Copernic will build a separate database in the background -- while you are working. New files are added to the database as soon as you have saved them on your hard disk.

Copernic has a simple and easy to understand interface. By using pull-down menus you can actually build quite advanced search queries. That being said, Copernic also supports Boolean search terms (AND, OR, NOT), nested searches (use of parentheses) and fixed keyword phrases (use of quotation marks).

Copernic Desktop Search gets the price for its easy to understand interface and its fast and inobtrusive indexing.

Highly recommended

If you prefer a more traditional web browser based interface to your PC searchers, Google's desktop search tool is the answer. If you know how to search the Web using Google, you also know how to use Google Desktop Search.
The End

We congratulate all the winners and thank you all for showing up!

The Pandia Award winners for 2005 will be announced early next year. Do not hesitate to nominate candidates, or send us books or software for reviews.

Note: This is an archived, little bit revised and mini version of the page “The Pandia Search Engine Awards 2004”, we made this available for visitors mainly because it’s still among the most sought web pages on this site. The information on this page may be outdated and highly unlikely to get refreshed.