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One of Google’s greatest achievements is to make itself indispensable to its users. As the graph from Statcounter below shows Google is utterly dominant in world search engine use. If you look at the chart for mobile search engine use it’s even more ubiquitous.

Such is this dominance that other search engines, however good, will face the immediate problem of legitimacy. If you actually compare Google, Bing and Yahoo results there isn’t an enormous amount of difference but most users will probably be inclined, even if using another search engine, to check Google as well to be safe.

As a librarian I see it as my duty to try out other search engines and as a result I’ve managed to ween myself off sticking everything in Google. My current search engine of choice is DuckDuckGo but I’ve also tried many of the search engines from this list to see how my results change.

Google is a very powerful search engine which gains relevance every time it is used however it is worth remembering that that which is popular isn’t necessarily that which is best.

Global search engine use in 2011

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Image representing Duck Duck Go as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

Fed up of Google constantly adding things, trying to sell you things based on your private data or being evil in general?

Don’t want to try Bing because let’s be honest Microsoft aren’t exactly angels themselves.

Don’t want to try Yahoo because it’s Bing with a different dress on…

Try DuckDuckGo then! It’s very simple (a bit like Google was 10 years ago), produces relevant search results, has little to no advertising, doesn’t collect private data, provides instant answers and is easy to plug-in to Firefox.

English: Google China

Image via Wikipedia

In his rather good book about the mighty Google Ken Auleta said that one of Google’s strengths was that it was a platform to the rest of the web and that it wanted users to spend as little time on the Google search page as possible. He was comparing it to portal sites like Yahoo! and AOL which rapidly fell out of favour at the turn of the century while Google grew from strength to strength. When Google first appeared in 1998 the difference between it and other search engine sites was stark. The minimal feel of Google was liberating and allowed users to be in control of the information they viewed rather than suggesting it like Yahoo! or the like.

Step forward nearly 15 years (I know it’s been that long) and things have changed. Although Google is still unequivocally the king of search in most developed countries (with China and Russia notable exceptions) it has had to change its strategy to deal with a new kind of enemy – the social network, and particularly Facebook. Recent research has shown American’s spend five times as much web time on Facebook than any Google site. This is why when you compare Google today to how it was even a few years back it has become far more concerned with how long you spend on its site. Nowadays through search personalisation, Google+, Gmail, Blogger and so on Google wants to keep you right where they can see you.

What does this mean for the future? Well with Google+ going live this week there’s no going back, Google is now slowly becoming a portal and in doing so is a long long way from its roots.

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