Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Split Screen Web Searching

A company called SearchBoth.ca has developed a Website that presents search word/term results in split screen format: one side showing Google results, and the other showing Yahoo!

The first thought when I read the announcement was: “Why the heck would anyone need to search both at the same time?" But the more I pondered the idea, the more I realized that the simplistic nature of this new Website is exactly what makes it so appealing.

Think about it: you’re essentially doubling search results in one click. Sure, there’s likely a lot of overlap. But it’s all about ranking: sometimes the result you’re looking for is higher ranked on Google than it is Yahoo!, and therefore shows up on the first page instead of the second, or third, or fourth, for example.

This site could also serve as a useful tool in helping users determine which search engine works best for their particular needs. You might realize over time that Google produces more relevant results; or that Yahoo! has a better handle on your specific topic interests.

I gave SearchBoth a quick test run, and it is exactly what it promises to be. Search results are presented instantaneously (I’m on a high-speed Rogers connection and using IE6). Place the cursor inside either the Google or Yahoo! results, and that selected side shifts to take up the majority of the screen. Move the cursor out of the window and it flips back to a 50/50 split. It can get annoying because, as you move the cursor (likely by force of habit), the screen toggles side to side in turn. But you’ll easily get used to it.

My quick searches didn’t determine a definite “winner” of the search engine race. The results were actually pretty evenly skewed, with everything I wanted either first on the list, or somewhere on the first page of results. As it stands, I only use Google for web searches. But I’m willing to give SearchBoth.ca a try to see if it yields better, faster, or more relevant results over the long run.

SearchBoth has also launched similar sites in the U.S. (SearchBoth.com), UK (SearckBoth.co.uk), and Australia (SearchBoth.com.au), each of which searches Google and Yahoo! in the respective countries.

You might be reading this and thinking “what a stupid idea”. But don’t forget that some of the greatest inventions probably sounded really stupid at first inception: especially when it comes to the ‘net. YouTube, anyone? I thought so. Who’s laughing now.

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