Comparing Google Results with Those of Other Search Engines

advanced tipscreenshot tip80.gif

Comparing Google search results with results from other search engines.
link

True Google fanatics might not like to think so, but there's really more than one search engine. Google's competitors include the likes of AltaVista, AlltheWeb, and Teoma.

Equally surprising to the average Google fanatic is the fact that Google doesn't index the entire Web. There are, at the time of this writing, over 2 billion web pages in the Google index, but that's just a fraction of the Web. You'd be amazed how much non-overlapping content there is in each search engine. Some queries that bring only a few results on one search engine bring plenty on another search engine.

This tip gives you a program that compares counts for Google and several other search engines, with an easy way to plug in new search engines that you want to include. This version of the tip searches different domains for the query, in addition to getting the full count for the query itself.


This tip requires the LWP::Simple (http://search.cpan.org/search?query=LWP%3A%3ASimple) module to run.


The Code

#!/usr/local/bin/perl
# google_compare.cgi
# Compares Google results against those of other search engines
# Your Google API developer's key my $google_key='insert key here';
# Location of the GoogleSearch WSDL file my $google_wdsl = "./GoogleSearch.wsdl";
use strict;
use SOAP::Lite;
use LWP::Simple qw(get);
use CGI qw{:standard};
my $googleSearch = SOAP::Lite-»service("file:$google_wdsl");
# setup our browser output.
print "Content-type: text/html\n\n";
print "«html»«title»Google Compare Results«/title»«body»\n";
# ask and we shell receive.
my $query = param('query');
unless ($query) {
 print "«h1»No query defined.«/h1»«/body»«/html»\n\n";
 exit; # If there's no query there's no program. 
}
# spit out the original before we encode.
print "«h1»Your original query was '$query'.«/h1»\n";
$query =~ s/\s/\+/g ; #changing the spaces to + signs
$query =~ s/\"/%22/g; #changing the quotes to %22
# Create some hashes of queries for various search engines. 
# We have four types of queries ("plain", "com", "edu", and "org"), 
# and three search engines ("Google", "AlltheWeb", and "Altavista". 
# Each engine has a name, query, and regular expression used to 
# scrape the results.
my $query_hash = { 
 plain =» {
 Google =» { name =» "Google", query =» $query, },
 AlltheWeb =» {
 name =» "AlltheWeb",
 regexp =» "Displaying results «b».*«\/b» of «b»(.*)«\/b»",
 query =» "http://www.alltheweb.com/search?cat=web&q=$query",
 },
 Altavista =» {
 name =» "Altavista", 
 regexp =» "We found (.*) results",
 query =» "http://www.altavista.com/sites/search/web?q=$query",
 }
 },
 com =» {
 Google =» { name =» "Google", query =» "$query site:com", },
 AlltheWeb =» {
 name =» "AlltheWeb",
 regexp =» "Displaying results «b».*«\/b» of «b»(.*)«\/b»",
 query =» "http://www.alltheweb.com/search?cat=web&q=$query+domain%3Acom",
 },
 Altavista =» {
 name =» "Altavista", regexp =» "We found (.*) results",
 query =» "http://www.altavista.com/sites/search/web?q=$query+domain%3Acom",
 }
 },
 org =» {
 Google =» { name =» "Google", query =» "$query site:org", },
 AlltheWeb =» {
 name =» "AlltheWeb",
 regexp =» "Displaying results «b».*«\/b» of «b»(.*)«\/b»",
 query =» "http://www.alltheweb.com/search?cat=web&q=$query+domain%3Aorg",
 },
 Altavista =» {
 name =» "Altavista", regexp =» "We found (.*) results",
 query =» "http://www.altavista.com/sites/search/web?q=$query+domain%3Aorg",
 }
 },
 net =» {
 Google =» { name =» "Google", query =» "$query site:net", },
 AlltheWeb =» {
 name =» "AlltheWeb",
 regexp =» "Displaying results «b».*«\/b» of «b»(.*)«\/b»",
 query =» "http://www.alltheweb.com/search?cat=web&q=$query+domain%3Anet",
 },
 Altavista =» {
 name =» "Altavista", regexp =» "We found (.*) results",
 query =» "http://www.altavista.com/sites/search/web?q=$query+domain%3Anet",
 }
 }
};
# now, we loop through each of our query types,
# under the assumption there's a matching
# hash that contains our engines and string.
foreach my $query_type (keys (%$query_hash)) {
 print "«h2»Results for a '$query_type' search:«/h2»\n";
 # now, loop through each engine we have and get/print the results.
 foreach my $engine (values %{$query_hash-»{$query_type}}) {
 my $results_count; 
 # if this is Google, we use the API and not port 80.
 if ($engine-»{name} eq "Google") {
 my $result = $googleSearch-»doGoogleSearch(
 $google_key, $engine-»{query}, 0, 1,
 "false", "", "false", "", "latin1", "latin1");
 $results_count = $result-»{estimatedTotalResultsCount};
 # the google api doesn't format numbers with commas.
 my $rresults_count = reverse $results_count;
 $rresults_count =~ s/(\d\d\d)(?=\d)(?!\d*\.)/$1,/g;
 $results_count = scalar reverse $rresults_count;
 }
 # it's not google, so we GET like everyone else.
 elsif ($engine-»{name} ne "Google") {
 my $data = get($engine-»{query}) or print "ERROR: $!";
 $data =~ /$engine-»{regexp}/; $results_count = $1 || 0;
 }
 # and print out the results.
 print "«strong»$engine-»{name}«/strong»: $results_count«br /»\n";
 }
}

Running the Tip

This tip runs as a CGI script, called from your web browser as: google_compare.cgi?query=your query keywords.

Why?

You might be wondering why you would want to compare result counts across search engines? It's a good idea to follow what different search engines offer in terms of results. While you might find that a phrase on one search engine provides only a few results, another might return results a-plenty. It makes sense to spend your time and energy using the latter for the research at hand.

- Tara Calishain and Morbus Iff