Image Search

By kfreelskfreels (1261532989|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

In this blog post, I will compare the results of Google Images to Exalead in my quest to find great pictures for my fast food wiki. Both Google Images and Exalead are general image search engines that find images across the web and allow users to filter through the results. Here are screenshots of what both sites look like when I search for 'hamburger':


In my analysis I will focus on four factors: quantity, quality, advanced search, and filtering options.


Here's a sampling of the # of results from each site for various searches:

Google Images Exalead
"hamburger" 3,620,000 41,246
"fast food" 39,900,000 33,252
"taco bell" 1,480,000 6,421
"french fries 3,140,000 6,699

You probably get the point. Obviously, Google Images returns far more images for searches than Exalead. However, does this really matter? Chances are, 98% of people don't scroll down past the 60th image or so. Okay I made that up, but seriously, no one would EVER scan through all 39,900,000 images related to fast food on Google Images. In fact, I actually think Exalead appeared to have a higher quantity because as you scroll down the page, more and more images appear. After lots of scrolling on my Taco Bell search, I could see the first 187 images on Exalead, whereas I could only see the first 20 for Google Images. 1 point for Exalead.


In the top 20 images returned for my "french fries" search on both sites, there were only 3 images that overlapped and were results for both image search engines. Google Images and Exalead seemed to be of pretty much the same quality, which unfortunately is not great quality. They both had roughly the same amount of irrelevant results for broad search terms and I wouldn't classify either has having high-quality or photography-like images. It was mostly grainy pictures pulled from random websites for each search engine. However, since I was searching for things like "taco bell" and "french fries", I thought maybe the quality issue was with my search terms, not the results themselves.

So I decided to search for "snapdragon", which is one of my favorite flowers. Google Images definitely dominated in the quality ring for this search. Exalead returned a lot of irrelevant images, and a lot of bad images. For Google, 8 out of the first 10 images were what I considered quality results in that they were relevant to my search and were not a grainy, un-useable images. Only 5 out of the first 10 on Exalead were quality images in my book. 1 point for Google.

Advanced Search

Below you will find the screenshots for the advanced search menus on Google Images and Exalead:


The Google Images Advanced Search menu has some cool features. First, filling out the form is pretty intuitive. It spells out exactly what the user would be looking for so they can find it easily (i.e. you can't really screw up "Find the results not related to the words…"). You also have the options to specify what content types Google searches (news, faces, etc.), the size of the image, aspect ratio, file type, and color (black & white or full color).

Exalead's Advanced Search tool was interesting. It had filters exactly like the first four on Google Images Advanced Search, and were pretty easy to use. If you click on "Exact Words" to filter, it populated the search box with exactly what you will need to do an exact word search, you just have to fill in the words. The interesting part of Exalead's Advanced Search was some of their other filter options; they have a phonetic search for people who don't know how to spell and just sound out words to search, as well as an approximate spelling search (if you kind of know how to spell the word), and a specific search for adult content. Maybe I'm naive, but do people really use these? Are they necessary? I tried out the phonetic search by typing in "shakespeer", and it definitely did not give me the results it would have, had I spelled the word correctly in my search. Only 1 of the top 10 results had anything to do with the real Shakespeare. Overall, I think Google Images Advanced Search is more useful because of its numerous, intuitive, and useful filtering options. 1 point for Google.

Filtering Options


To the left you can see the filtering options on Google Images, and below the filtering options on Exalead.

They both have the same kind of options: size, type, and color. Exalead also has filtering options for file type and orientation, that weren't available on their Advanced Search. For size filtering options, I like Google's a little better. I find their "icon" filter to be very useful. Many times I am looking for a tiny picture or logo and this suits my searches perfectly. Additionally, Exalead's size options are limited to Small, Medium, Large, and Wallpaper, whereas Google has 17 size options since you can pick from the drop-down menu of "Larger than…". Google had one more type filter than Exalead, allowing users to search for line drawings of an image. The color filters were essentially the same for both, except Google also had white, black, grey, and brown filters.

One thing I really didn't like about Exalead's filter is that if you're playing around with the filters, you have to undo a filter you just put on in order to try a different filter. For example, I wanted to browse through the color filters on Exalead. I first clicked on the yellow filter, and then wanted to see what the blue filter did, so I clicked on it. Exalead thinks I want to see images that are BOTH yellow and blue; not yellow OR blue which I could handle. So in order to get around this, after I've clicked on the yellow filter, I have to click on it again to undo it, and then click on the blue filter. It's tedious and time consuming, and it goes for all their filters, not just the colors. I hate to say it, but Google takes the cake in this round too. 1 point for Google.



Google: 3 points, Exalead 1. Google dominated in both quality, Advanced Search, and filtering options. The only thing Exalead had going for it was that it populates the page with far more results than Google does, making it easy to scan through. All in all, I'll be using Google Images (and probably some other tools too) for the rest of the semester as a I search for images for my site.

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