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Search Swagger

Thursday, November 11, 2004; Page E01

My index is bigger than yours.

That's the game Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are playing as the search-engine war heats up. Microsoft is rolling out a new search engine today, touting it as "the largest index of information," with more than 5 billion Web documents. Not to be outdone, industry leader Google defended its franchise, revealing last night that its search engine now combs more than 8 billion Web pages, instead of the 4.3 billion pages it claimed earlier yesterday.

"It is absolutely something search engines can brag about," said Andy Beal, vice president of KeywordRanking.com, a Web marketing firm.

But winning this round of the search war is as much about perception and marketing as technology, with Yahoo sitting out this skirmish. What really counts, said SearchEngineWatch.com editor Danny Sullivan, is not "size" but the relevance of results. "We do get kind of a laugh about it."

-- David A. Vise

© 2004 The Washington Post Company