Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Search engine interfaces and their APIs - How synchronized are they?

A few months ago I gave a little teaser about some research I was doing comparing the results you receive from the search engine APIs of Google, Yahoo, and MSN with the results that you see when you use their web user interface (WUI). The WUI is a fancy term for the little search box that you enter your queries into.

Most API users think that if they search for “march madness”, for example, that the returned results will be equivalent to what they would see if they searched for “march madness” using the WUI. In practice, this rarely occurs.

This leads us to ask, how different are the search engine API results from the WUI results? Are the APIs serving off of older indexes? Smaller indexes? Which search engine offers the most synchronized interfaces?

I will be presenting the answer to these questions at this year’s ACM IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL) this June in a paper entitled Agreeing to Disagree: Search Engines and their Public Interfaces. I’ll also be presenting a summary of my findings as a poster at the World Wide Web conference in May. Detailed findings can be found here. If you attend either of these conferences, please come by and introduce yourself... I’d be happy to discuss my findings with you.

By the way, if you haven't heard already, Google's SOAP web search API has been "depricated."