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How well do Search Engines understand user intent?

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
22 January 2009

What type of results are returned for generic searches?

This could develop into a much bigger article and probably should. But for just now I was thinking about Apple based on their latest quarterly profit results. So what does a search for 'Apple' actually produce on the key search engines – I am being kind to the other two here!

If I were looking for 'apple the fruit' how would I fair?


  • 5 links to offical Apple sites
  • 2 wikipeida listings
  • 1 link to UK comapny apple.co.uk
  • 1 link to slashdot article

Also three out of eight related searches related directly to the Apple company and 3 out of three News stories were all Apple the company based.

A couple of related results included fruit recipes which was nice.

So broadly speaking 69% of all results returned were for Apple the company. No Image Search returned – interesting!


  • 4 links to offical apple sites
  • 2 wikipeida listings
  • 1 link to UK comapny apple.co.uk
  • 1 link to slovakian re-seller (!)
  • 1 link to kudosnetwork.co.uk
  • 1 link to uk.apple-expo.com

There were no News, Image or Related Searches returned. No fruit reported on.

So 60% were to Apple the company.


  • 9 links to offical apple sites
  • 1 link to UK comapny apple.co.uk

There were no News, Image or Related Searches returned. And no fruit!

So 90% were to Apple the company – that's a lot of love!


As you can see MSN were massively in favour of returning official Apple results, Google next up and then Yahoo!

I find it really interesting that only Google offered more variety in terms of other types of results being offered such as News and related searches but no one offered images.

Recipes were shown in the Google related searches so for apple crumble click here. That is all the fruit we have – sorry!

I know this is the briefest snapshot but I would have expected more variety but with Apple dominating. So for my money Yahoo! were the best option here.

Next stop is to do this while signed into a personal account and see how the results vary – any volunteers for that one?



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