Yahoo! Claims Search Bragging Rights–For The Moment

The Yahoo! search engine announced yesterday "that its online search engine index now spans more than 20 billion Web documents and images, nearly double the material scanned by rival Google Inc.," the Associated Press reported.

Yahoo! claims they’ve indexed 20.8 billion "objects," meaning documents and images compared to Google’s 11.3 billion objects.

This sort of a silly competition Yahoo and MSN and Google are engaged in that really doesn’t mean much at all because they are all roughly the same in terms of size, and, if not, as the case seems to be today, they soon will be as Google and MSN double their efforts to catch up. Expect a similar announcement by Google or MSN or both within a month or two.

Still, the annoucements practically guarnatee a story, so why not issue a press release?

Size is not, nor should it be the issue for search engines. The most significant quote of the article was the last, by Search Engine Watch‘s Danny Sullivan: "You could add a billion pages about Britney Spears and that doesn’t mean the quality of results will be any better," Sullivan said. "There have been times when other search indexes have expanded, and the results have actually gotten worse."

For my money, all of the big three search engines could do a lot better on the relevance of their search results and, from my own daily observations, I think Google’s relevance has slipped during the past six months.

Improve on that and I’ll be impressed.

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