Image search with major search engines

Felice Schmertzler

Introduction

Aside from Google, there are three other major search engines that provide an image search capability: Bing, Yahoo, and Ask. By going to the main page of each of these, you will see a link to “Images” near the top of the screen that will take you to an image search. You can also access each engines image search by clicking on the following links: Bing Images, Yahoo Images, and Ask Images. Each of these search engines provides a unique way to search for images of practically anything you may be interested in finding. While discussing Bing, Yahoo, and Ask individually, we will consider how to use its image search, compare it with Google’s image search, and end with how to get the most out of the tool.  Throughout our investagation of the tools, I will be using “biotechnology” as the image search query to better understand the results displayed from the distinct searches.

Bing instructions

How to use

When first arriving on Bing’s image search home page, the viewer is shown a series of “trending” images. This can be helpful in finding current images quickly as well as generally staying involved in what is popular. However, most users will continue to input a specific search query and hope for good results. Using “biotechnology” as our test query, Bing provides us with an infinitely scroll of results.

 

We have several options to help further define our search by accessing the menu directly below the search query. We can specify the size, color, type, layout, and people we are looking for.

Size– Size filters your search for images that are specifically small, medium, large, or wallpaper sized. This can be for the purpose of finding a picture that will fit specifically in a document with the right resolution you are looking for.

Color– The color drop down provides the option of finding images that are color only, black and white only, or you can chose for a picture to be dominate in one color. For example, if I chose blue as the color I wanted to see most in my image, these are the results for “Biotechnology” that would appear:

Blue- Biotechnology

Type– Type allows you to limit your search to a photograph, clipart, or line drawing.

Layout– Layout allows you to find images that are specifically square, wide, or tall. This can again be useful for the final destination of the image. Lets use social media for example: if you were looking for a new cover photo for Facebook, you would search for a wide image because it has the appropriate dimensions that a cover photo requires.

People– People is useful when you are specifically looking for parts of a person in a picture. The search can either be specified to “faces” or “head and shoulders.”

These filters can be applied simultaneously to help get to the goal of your search as quickly as possible. Once you have found what you are looking for, don’t forget to “clear filters” from your last search before your new one begins!

Related Searches– Bing Images also provides a series of related image searches based on your query. If the results for biotechnology do not provide what I am looking for, Bing suggest popular searches that specifically have biotechnology in them: Biotechnology- in agriculture, Biotechnology- bio technology, Biotechnology- Thailand, Biotechnolgy- career opportunities, and Biotechnolgy- DNA structure. These are all fairly good suggestions and may even lead the viewer to wonder on the specifics of Biotechnology in Thailand, since this may be an unexpected result.

Related Topics– On the right hand side, you will find “related topics” to your search. This is anything and everything that can be associated with your query topic. For example, Biotechnology provides related topics such as “Genetic Engineering”, “Cloning”, and “Nanotechnology”. All of these are great related topics to look into. However, this is not very accurate for all searches (especially, multiword searches). As we can see in Professor Moore’s video “Image Search with Major Search Engines”, some queries (such as beach sunset) return related topics that happen to be completely unrelated to the original query.

Comparison with Google Web search

Bing’s image search is very similar to Google’s search structure. Both provide the following:

  • An array of images generated after searching a specific query
  • Filter options for size, color, and type near the top of the page (although you have to click on “More search tools” on Google to access the filters)
  • Related searches
However, let’s look at what each search engine offers that the other one doesn’t:

*Note: Only Google’s items will be described because Bing’s items have been previously described.

Google offers:

Time filter– the ability to filter images by when they were posted. It is even possible to create a custom range of time for Google to filter.

Specific size filter– it also offers the ability to display the specific size dimensions of an image directly by the image itself for faster, more accurate measurements.

Search by image– Google allows the user to upload an image into the search. Then Google proceeds to find an image that looks similar to the one uploaded.

Conclusion- Bing arguably provides a better image search. Although it is in the hands of the user to decide the importance of the benefits offered by both sites.

 How to get the most out of it

Log in– Logging in does not create a difference in search quality.

Query length– As mentioned earlier, doing a lengthier query can return less helpful results. As a good rule of thumb, try to make your query as concise as possible. Focusing your search on necessary elements will provide the best results, and then you can use the filters to narrow it down from there.

(To set your preferences, go to this image on the top right of the screen)

Preferences–  Within preferences you can specify how many results you want to show up on the page, which language(s) the search will be limited to, the ability to display adult content, the ability to display search suggestions, and allowing Bing to use your location.  Unfortunately, setting most of these preferences will not enhance the quality of your search in most situations, but they can enhance the quality of your experience.

Search operators: filetype: , link: , linkdomain: , contains: , inurl: , inanchor: , intitle: , inbody :

Almost all of Bing’s search operators can be used in Bing’s image search.

Yahoo instructions

How to use

Yahoo also provides the “latest in images” similar to Bing. However, there are a few differences: To access Yahoo’s “latest in images”, you must click on the “Image Search” button without having searched anything. Then the images are split up by categories including: sports, music, movies, politics, fashion, etc.

Again, this can be helpful in finding current images quickly as well as generally staying involved in what is popular. However, most users will continue to input a specific search query and hope for good results. Using “Biotechnology” as our test query, Yahoo provides an initial page with a set number of results and a button at the bottom that is labeled “Show More Images.”

Yahoo’s approach– Yahoo takes a different approach to image search than Google and Bing. Yahoo focuses on High Quality (HQ) images in its search. Every search will appear with the first two rows of results being HQ images and the first images will say something along the lines of “999+ High Quality Images.” If you click on this first photo, you will be redirected to a slide show of the high quality images.

Ads– Lastly, Yahoo also has Ads at the top of the image search. There will generally be a thin strip of about three ads lining the top of the page. Ads generally are related to the search. For example, searching “biotechnology” provides ads such as “what is biotechnology” on ask.com, “human genome sciences” on goldmansachs.com and “biotech summits/events” on opalevents.org. As ads generally are, these are more of an inconvenient distraction then a benefit.

Comparison with Google Web search

Yahoo and Google both provide an image search, but they are actually  very different. The following illustrates the advantages that each site has over the other.

*Note: Only Google’s items will be described.

Google offers:

No Ads- Google does not distract the user with ads appearing before the search results.

Filtered Searches- Google allows the user to specify the image search by time, size, color, type, and view.

Search by image– Google allows the user to upload an image into the search. Then Google proceeds to find an image that looks similar to the one uploaded.

Conclusion- Google arguably provides a better image search. Although it is in the hands of the user to decide the importance of the benefits offered by both sites.

How to get the most out of it

Yahoo image search provides almost identical techniques to other search engines for getting the most out of your search.

Log in– Logging in does not create a difference in search quality.

Query length– As mentioned earlier, doing a lengthier query can return less helpful results. As a good rule of thumb, try to make your query as concise as possible. Focusing your search on necessary elements will provide the best results, and then you can use the filters to narrow it down from there.

(To set your preferences, go to the “Options” button to the right of the search query. Then click preferences.)

Preferences–  Within preferences you can specify  whether you want search suggestions, adult content, a search scan to protect  your computer, languages, results per page, and layout. Like the other search engines, setting most of these preferences will not enhance the quality of your search in most situations, but they can enhance the quality of your experience.

Search operators: url: , link: , linkdomain: , intitle:  , domain:

To see a more comprehensive view of Yahoo’s search operators compared to Google’s, click here. Almost all of Yahoo’s search operators can be used in Yahoo’s image search.

Ask instructions

How to use

Ask is the last image search engine we will be evaluating. Similar to Bing and Yahoo, Ask provides the most “popular images searches” when you arrive on the image search homepage. As you can see, it is very seasonal and most items have to do with the Thanksgiving and fall because it is that time of year.

Again, this should be very helpful in finding current images quickly (especially seasonal images) as well as generally staying involved in what is popular. Unfortunately, Ask doesn’t provide the best service. Say, for example, I really liked the image it shows as the label for “Thanksgiving.” It seems that I should be able to access that picture by clicking on it right? It turns out that is not a possibility for Ask. Clicking on the images will redirect you to other images that are related to Thanksgiving, but not the one that first drew you in. Furthermore, there are very few images shown on the first page and they are not the highest of quality.

However, most users will continue to input a specific search query and hope for good results. Using “Biotechnology” as our test query, Ask provides an initial page with a set number of results and numbers at the bottom to lead you to the next pages of results.

What do we see when we have done an image search:

Ads– Ask is well-known for cluttering the search page with related ads and image search is no different. You will find ads before and after your results on the site. These, to say the least, are usually not helpful.(Note: the ads for biotechnology appear after the image results, but this is an uncommon in comparison to most searches where ads appear at the very beginning).

Related Searches– At the top of the site, you will find related searches. The related searches to biotechnology are “Types of biotechnology”, “Importance of Biotechnology” and so on. Clearly, these are general related search and not specific to an image search in any way. This may be informative to help you learn more about the topic, but its not helping the cause of finding the best quality images.

Filters– Ask provides two filters: Size (Small, Medium, Large, Wallpaper) and Color (Black and White only, Color only). However, limiting to any of these filters will provide far fewer results than you can get on other search engines.

You might also ask“- this is a section on the side that takes you to other topics you may be curious about related to your search. In regards to Biotechnology, you might ask “What is biotechnology?” and “What does biotechnology mean?” Again, these are general searches and are not helpful for an image search.

Related News- Lastly you will see a section on related news (Biotechnology Research and Market Changes). Again this is not helpful for an image search.

Comparison with Google Web search

From the beginning it is fairly obvious that Ask is inferior to Google in its image search, but lets take a look at exactly why:

*Note: Only Google’s items will be described.

Google offers:

More results- Google generally has more images that are easier to see and access with the layout

No ads/better layout/less clutter- Google does not distract the user with ads appearing before and after the search results. In general everything on the Google Images results page is useful for the image search whereas this is completely false for Ask.

More Filtered Searches- Google allows the user to specify the image search by time, color, type, and view.

Search by image- Google allows the user to upload an image into the search. Then Google proceeds to find an image that looks similar to the one uploaded.

Conclusion- Google is clearly a better image search engine.It provides a variety of different benefits that enhance the quality and the experience. Even Ask’s one benefit of “Popular Image Searches” have defects that make it a frustrating tool.

How to get the most out of it

Ask image search provides the least useful techniques compared to other search engines for getting the most out of your search.

Log in- Logging in does not create a difference in search quality.

Query length– As mentioned earlier, doing a lengthier query can return less helpful results. As a good rule of thumb, try to make your query as concise as possible. Focusing your search on necessary elements will provide the best results, and then you can use the filters to narrow it down from there.

 (To set your preferences, go to the “Settings” button at the top right corner of the page.)

Settings-  Ask settings offers the least amount of preference options when compared to other search engines. Within settings, you can specify  whether you want results to appear in a new window, search suggestions, and an alert when adult content is being filtered. Like the other search engines, setting most of these preferences will not enhance the quality of your search in most situations, but they can enhance the quality of your experience.

Search operators: Ask image search does not support search operators.

Recommendations

Overall, it seems that Google or Bing are the best image search engines to use. Bing is better for the amount of filters you can apply and the appealing layout of results. However, Google provides great results as well and has a search by image option if necessary. Yahoo is a good search engine to specifically find high quality pictures, but it does not provide the quality experience and results that Google and Bing provide. Ask is clearly the least effective image search engine.

Appendix

Google Images, http://www.google.com/imghp?hl=en&tab=wi : This is a site that the chapter is based on.

Bing Images, http://www.bing.com/images?FORM=Z9LH: This is a site that the chapter is based on.

Yahoo Images, http://images.search.yahoo.com/images: This is a site that the chapter is based on.

Ask Images, http://www.ask.com/pictureslanding?o=0&l=dir&qsrc=321: This is a site that the chapter is based on.

Google’s Image Search Operators, http://support.google.com/images/answer/142515/?hl=en : this further explains the image search operators helpful in Google. This was not information provide in the chapter, but may be useful to the reader.

Bing Search Operators, http://www.bing.com/community/site_blogs/b/search/archive/2005/06/24/432439.aspx : This is the list that the Bing search operators are based on.

Yahoo’s Search Operators, http://www.bruceclay.com/newsletter/1004/seoperators.html : this is a list of Yahoo search operators compared to Google’s.

“Image search with major search engines” video by Scott Moore:  http://bk4a.com/bit330f2012/lesson-unit/1643/image-search-major-search-engines

About the Author

Felice Schmertzler is a junior at the Ross School of Business. She is involved in various organizations on campus including Bond Consulting and Phi Chi Theta. Felice has had internship experience as an Operations Summer Analyst at Goldman Sachs and served as a Wealth Management Client Associate at Bank of America- Merrill Lynch.

3 Responses to Image search with major search engines

  1. ashleymg on November 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm says:

    Formatting: Only a few issues with formatting. Under Ask’s comparison with Google, there is an awkward space after the “Search by Image.” Many sections use just underlining of a word to make them stand out, like at the beginning of paragraphs, and I think you should either use bolded words or a heading style. just the underline with the same font as the rest of the paragraph doesn’t really make it stand out.

    Writing: A fair amount of issues with writing, so hopefully you” proof again. A few things to mention now…

    -Par 1- By going to “the” main page of each of these..
    -Par 1- to “an” image search..
    -Par 1- You can also access (delete “the”) each…
    -Some of the instructions from Professor Moore’s outline were left in the chapter.
    -Under Bing’s How to Use, the sections like “Type” and “Layout” often used the word “always” instead of “allows.” That was a consistent problem throughout the chapter.

    Links & images: Most of your links and images were good, but there were a few issues. I suggest linking to Professor’s website in your appendix. There’s a large space after the personal settings graphic near the end of the post, along with after Bing Instructions – How to Use. I really liked the graphics that I think you created yourself when comparing the engines with Google. Those were very nice.

    Informs: Your chapter would easily inform a new user of image search’s, but probably wouldn’t teach an experienced searcher anything new.

    Evaluation: You covered the basics of each engine in your evaluation – it’s performance and it’s ability to refine results. This seemed pretty adequate for an image search overview. I would have like to see you go a little more in-depth with Google’s ability to search for images a user uploads.

    Analysis & reasoning: Fairly basic. You provided an example of a query in each demonstration of image search engines, but there was no new information discovered. There were a few new interesting things, like the color search on Bing and the inability co click on the popular images in Ask.

    Content requirements: You met all of the content requirements, but you compared the image search’s to Google’s image search. i think that was the right way to go, but I believe we were supposed to compare to a standard Google search.

    Length: You met the length requirement.

  2. chrispur on December 3, 2012 at 3:06 am says:

    Formatting: Really clean. Good job making sure you didn’t leave a space between your images. They seamlessly fit in your text and I think that’s great.

    Writing: Ashley went through the small writing mistakes I found as well.

    Links: A good amount of links. You could always link us to one of the search results so we can see for ourself the different filter options available for our use.

    Informs/Analysis: I think your chapter was good at informing us about the different options available when image searching. I think your introduction could start off with simply telling us when people need to use image search. Talk about the history of image searching and when it became popular and retrieved enough pictures for their databases. This is also something you could analyze with each search engine. Do they all have around the same number of pictures for searches?

    I recommend searching for more than just biotechnology. While you should keep it consistent throughout your chapter, it could be interesting if you show how different searches retreive different types of results and it’s important to use specific words or phrases when searching for pictures. This would add much more analysis to your chapter and take it to the next level.

    You met the length requirement and stay consistent with your content. Overall, great job!

  3. esalas on December 3, 2012 at 5:11 am says:

    Hey great chapter. It was well structured, and the reading was easy to follow. You provide very good details as to how to use the search engines. However, I do suggest that you go into a little more depth with the filters in each Image search. Showing the reader how the filters work for each site will strengthen your chapter much more.

    I also noticed that you left in the questions that were part of the original outline that Professor Moore had given us. Do you want to leave those in there? They seem a little awkward having them there since you already answered some of the questions in your introduction. If you decide to leave them in there, I suggest formatting them to transition to your next section better.

    In the Bing instructions, it would help if you mention where one can access the filters. You could include am image here, and for every other portion in your chapter saying where the filters are. Also, in the “People” explanation of BIng, you say that the filters can be applied simultaneously. It would help if you explained how you can use more than one filter at once. Going further into your search could help here.

    There were a couple of erros throughout your chapter. These are the ones I noticed:

    Related Topics: “in Professor Moore video” Make it Moore’s. hyperlinking the link would also clear clutter up.

    Search by Image: “Google allows the user to upload and image…” The “and” should be “an”. This error repeats in the next to comparisons of Yahoo and Ask with Google.

    Search Operators for Bing: Why are the operators different fonts?

    In Yahoo section: “To access Yahoo’s “lastest in images” you much..” Change the “much” to “must”.

    Yahoo’s approach: In the first sentence, the “that” should be “than”.

    Overall, this was a good chapter. I suggest you look over for any more grammatical errors, and lengthen your searches to incorporate using filters. This will improve you chapter, and allow the reader to have a greater understanding in the comparisons of Bing, Yahoo, and Ask with Google. By the way, your images where you compare features with Google and the other image search engine is awesome.

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