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Search Engine Algorithms

Search Engine Algorithms

I recently performed the same search in two different search engines: Google and the Dartmouth College Library Catalog. Typing “how to” into google yielded five results of varying media. My first result was the wikiHow homepage; my second result was the Wikipedia page of the term “how-to”; the third result was the HowToBasic YouTube channel; the fourth result linked to every how-to-tag on Lifehacker; the fifth entry linked to every how-to article on the Entrepreneur website.

The Dartmouth College Library Catalog, on the other hand, yielded more instructional results. The first result was a book by John P. David titled How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online; the second result was a book by Paul Deitel and Harvey M. Deitel titled Android™ How to Program, Third Edition; the third result was another book by Paul Deitel and Harvey Deitel titled C++ How to Program, 10/e.

A stark difference between the Google results and the Dartmouth College Library Catalog results was variation. My first search yielded very open-ended results that could appeal to a wide audience. The results were also of varying media – videos and clickbait blogs chief among them. My second result, however, yielded academic texts that would appeal to both students and professors. Furthermore, the results all linked to an online eBooks that were available online. In other words, the results were not incredibly varied.

I think one of the reasons the results differed were twofold. First, Google is used by much more people than the Dartmouth College Library Catalog. The audience is broad and, for the most part, non-specialized. The Dartmouth College Library Catalog, on the other hand, is intended for an academic community looking for sources for specialized-work. Furthermore, the results in the Dartmouth College Library Catalog were alphabetized, which is why my last two results were by the same authors. Ultimately, my takeaway from the two different algorithms of the search engines is as follows: Google is good for general searches, the Dartmouth College Library Catalog is good for specialized inquiries.

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