Eleven major search engines were reviewed between April 5 and 11, 2000. The engines were searched using five separate travel industry categories: Airline Tickets, Airlines, Cruise Lines, Hotels, and Car Rental. Engines were scored based upon their results; these scores and results are broken down into separate tables.

MSN and SNAP tied for first. Overall scores are below. Explanatory notes follow the list.



1. MSN
49} 2-way tie
3. Google 44
4. AltaVista 41
5. Direct Hit 39
6. Iwon 36
7. Yahoo 34
8. Ask Jeeves 29
9. Lycos 26
10. Netscape 16
11. Excite 11


  1. Five categories were searched: Airlines, Airline Tickets, Cruise Lines, Hotels, and Car Rental. No Boolean connectors or additional search characters were used in the search string.
  2. Average points above were derived by summing the search engine scores and dividing by 5.
  3. Highest possible average score = 90, plus possible "extra credit" in some categories.


Search engines fell well short in their searches compared to those results based upon consumer preferences. The search engine results were compared against objectively and scientifically derived rankings provided by PCData, which ranks sites according to estimates of unique monthly visitors. PCData uses a consumer pool of 120,000 users to determine web rankings and usership.

Information from PCData is used by Omega World Travel for its new internet ranking and search directory, A subsidiary of Omega, is the internet's first search directory to use consumer intelligence data to categorize and rank the most popular websites by industry categories.

Search engines offered reasonable performance at the "micro" level, that is, in searching out obscure and narrowly focused sites. However, they did a poor job on the "macro" level when searching for selected travel industry-related key words, as the attached reports clearly demonstrate. Even the highest-scoring engines only reflected about half of what consumers prefer. The lowest-scoring engine provided search results that reflected only 12% of consumer preferences.

Generally, search engines also provided inconsistent results compared to each other. In addition, the same URLs were often listed multiple times within the top 10 or 20 sites returned from a search.

Major search engines do an extremely poor job of providing search results that reflect what consumers actually prefer. At best, the highest scoring engines only produced half of the sites consumers most often visit. While search engines are useful, their inconsistent and wide-ranging delivery of URLs appears to present difficulties for typical users.

The travel industry may wish to more closely examine how their respective sites are presented in the major search engines, in order to ensure that quality products and services are being presented to search engine users in an appropriate manner.


Search Engine Score Tables (short form)
| Cruise Lines | AirlinesAirline TicketsHotelsCar Rental |

Search Engine Score Tables (complete form)
| Cruise Lines | AirlinesAirline TicketsHotelsCar Rental |

Search Engine Ranking Comparisons
| Cruise Lines | AirlinesAirline TicketsHotelsCar Rental |

Search Engine Results
| Cruise Lines | AirlinesAirline TicketsHotelsCar Rental |

The search engine analysis was performed and tabulated between April 5 -12, 2000, by Omega World Travel subsidiary Rankings for the search engine comparisons were provided by PCData. Rankings are based on unique monthly users and as such represent the best available rankings which reflect consumer preferences.

The search engine study was intiated after researchers for the search directory discovered that the results provided by major search engines did not seem to correlate with the most popular websites in many categories.

Go To: Full Report | Press Release | Index of Tables
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