The good folks over at Yahoo! are crowing about the fact that they have updated their index (the listing of documents and other files that make up their search results). Tim Mayer says:

Ensuring you find what you're looking for is the true measure of search engine quality and something we strive for every day. We measure quality in terms of RCFP – Relevance, Comprehensiveness, Freshness, and Presentation and continue to work on improving those metrics. While we're never satisfied, it is nice to see some of our efforts over the past year have been recognized – including winning the 5th annual Outstanding Search Service award from Search Engine Watch and our top position in the Search Engine Relevancy Challenge.

Of course, esoteric metrics and industry awards are not important as actual results, as Mayer himself notes. How do Yahoo! and other search engines fare?

We constructed a simple test to analyze the top three search engines' quality - a search for "martey dodoo" without quotation marks, plus signs, or boolean modifers.
Google is the most popular search engine on the Internet today, and its results show why. It correctly identified this website as the most relevant result for "Martey Dodoo."
MSN Search results for martey dodoo
The money that Microsoft has put into developing MSN's search technology (see right) has also paid off. While previous tests were problematic, this website is currently the first result for "Martey Dodoo," as it should be. Still, MSN's assertion that we might actually be searching for information on "marty dodoo" (when such an individual does not exist) is slightly troublesome.

While links from this website are certainly among Yahoo!'s 20 billion indexed documents, they do not appear anywhere on the first ten pages of a search for "Martey Dodoo." While it is possible that there are a hundred other pages on the Internet serving more relevant, comprehensive, and fresh content about Martey Dodoo, it is highly unlikely (this is, after all). Considering that the vast majority of Yahoo!'s results are blog posts where Martey either commented or trackbacked, it is clear that Yahoo!'s method of determining relevant documents is suboptimal.

It does not matter if you have 20 billion documents in your index if your users cannot find the ones that they are searching for. Hopefully, Yahoo! will continue to improve the relevancy of its index as well as its size.