The SearchTools survey has been on
the SearchTools site since December 1998. This report summarizes the
1075 completed entries tabulated as of July 12, 2001.
As with previous results, the topics covered include information about
web site sizes, languages, file formats and so on, as well as why search
is or is not installed, and ratings of search engines. It is a self-selected
group of respondents, and the results are interesting, if not statistically
significant. We will continue accepting survey entries and will analyze
For information about search engine product ratings, see the Survey
Search Engines and Sites
We wanted to learn more about the relationship of search engines
and web sites, and how web site managers view search engines.
Reasons for Installing or Not Installing Search
For those who have installed a search engine, most cite better navigation
and a professional look for the site. Marketing and Customer Service
departments are also encouraging site managers to add search engines.
For more information, see the report Why Site
Managers Install Search Engines.
Of those who took our survey, the majority had not installed a search
engine (yet), mainly citing time and complexity. However more people
recognize a need for searching and plan to add it even before the
site has been completed. For more information, see the report on Reasons
Why Search Is Not Installed.
Searching and Web Site Characteristics
We've found some interesting data about the web sites surveyed. As
we expected, sites with more pages tend to have search engines installed,
to allow people better access to their information. For details, see
Site Sizes and Search Engines. In addition,
sites which are updated hourly or daily are much more likely to have
search installed than those which update less often: see Search
and Update Frequency for details.
Installing a site search tool is easiest on a local server. Administrators
working on co-located and hosted servers have a harder time installing
site searching, and are significantly less likely to do so, as shown
by our results for Server Location Search.
As in our previous survey, we found that there are many sites with
non-English text, and they are more likely to have search engines
installed: see Search and Languages on Sites.
We also found that single-language sites are much less likely to have
search engines installed than multilingual sites: details are in the
report Search Engines & Multiple
Finally, a large number of sites are report serving non-HTML files,
including interchange formats such as PDF, PostScript, Flash and XML,
and office productivity files such as Word, WordPerfect, Excel and
PowerPoint. Even some of the remote services and free software will
index these files. For more details, see the Search
and File Formats report.
Search engines requirements are more complex and idiosyncratic than
they appear at first. A web site may have dynamic pages, or be missing
page descriptions, or change often, requiring a flexible indexer to
adjust to these conditions. An intranet may have power searchers and
complex frames containing binary data recognized by special client
modules, while a topical portal may have customers who perform many
single-word searches. No one search engine is best for everyone, but
some have consistently happy users while others are rated very badly.
If you read the comments, you can learn a great deal from the experiences
of our survey takers!