Image Search - Google vs. CompFight

By ranfanranfan (1258070076|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

In this blog, I will compare popular Google Image tool to a less known/used image search tool CompFight.

Some Background Info

Google Image Search

We are probably all familiar with Google Image search, it's part of the Google family, and if you want some more information on recent improvements they've made you can check out my other blog about it here. Because of Google's powerful technology, it is advertised as Google Images. The most comprehensive image search on the web.

While I'm a big fan of Google Images, but I won't spend too much time talking about its features (because you can read my previous blog!). Instead, I want to spend more time introducing you to CompFight.


First off, it is a Flickr image search tool. So its primary benefit over a tool like Google Image Search is that there are less concerns for copy rights. I guess to explain that, you'd have to know a bit about Flickr. It is known as one of the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.


Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.

"Creative Commons is a non-profit that offers an alternative to full copyright." Creative Commons

There are a copy types of licenses that users can chose when they put up their pictures. Some examples include —

  • Attribution:You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give you credit
  • Noncommercial: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for noncommercial purposes only.
  • No Derivative Works: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

CompFight Search lets you chose between commercially license images, or just creative commons, or both. So You can use Compfight for personal or commercial purposes, and perform various types of searches, making it a very flexible tool useful to a wide range of users.


Compfight allows users to easily find a host of images on Flickr.

The basic search is a keyword search that will look through Flickr tags and return up to hundreds of photos tagged with your keyword.

If your results are weak, you can change to an ‘all text’ search that will also hunt through photo titles and descriptions to find your keyword. Click on any thumbnail result and you’ll be brought to the photo’s original page on Flickr.

A ‘Blue Bar’ underlining a photo thumbnail on the results page indicates that Flickr is holding an original of that photo, and by hovering your cursor over a bar, you can even see the pixel dimensions of the original. You can turn on the Creative Commons feature to find licensable photos, or Safe Search to keep your results free of possibly offensive content.

Why not use Flickr itself?

But there is also a search feature on Flickr itself…

The Flickr search to be slow and lackluster. The regular Flickr search returns very few results per page and shows lots of information about them.

On the hand, Compfight beats messing around with Flickr's advanced settings. While Flickr may have more options, Compfight gives you the most popular advanced settings without the added hassle or confusion.

Compfight displays lots of images quickly, and this allows you to look through hundreds of images in the same amount of time it would take you to look through just a few on the regular Flickr search.

Sample Search & Review

I will talk about the results of my searches first, then you can look at the screenshots below. The intention is to allow you to see the differences in the special features of each search engine (with a focus on CompFight). The table below summarizes what I did and what I found in terms of results returned.

  • Google, as expected yields more returns
  • In CompFight, text yields more returns than tag
  • In CompFight, Creative Commons yields more returns than Commercial
  • CompFight images are more "artistic" and look more HD

For instance, a search for [starbucks] yielded mostly just its logo in Google, but in CompFight, because these are photos, they show logo in a real setting. Although Google has a photo only filter, its images are not as "artistic"

I would choose CompFight as a good place to browse for images for presentations because they are more artistic and less conventional. However, for logos company text, images that are already designed in a set manner, I will choose Google Images.

CompFight, despite yielding less results, actually have more images per page, which facilitates browsing. Clicking on an image in CompFight also means that it opens in a new window / tab, unlike Google Images which opens it in the same tab, requiring you to click the back button. In Google, because it shows the image as part of the website, sometimes, the image is a broken link or not what you expected. However, because all pictures on Flickr, not only are they all high quality, you can also click through the photostream of the artist who took the picture. For instance, I really liked this picture, so I also spent a good amount of time browsing through the other photos this particular person took. So CompFight is a good tool for those who enjoy good pictures AND those who are task focused.

What I dislike about CompFight is that it does not have spell check nor does it offer other terms that may yield similar returns. But, I found on several occasions that even if I mistyped, I'll still get results because it is likely the author also made common spelling mistakes.

Search Engine Search Term Features Results
Google Coffee All Results 102,000,000
CompFight Coffee Tag 475,857
CompFight Coffee Text 1,250,350
Google Starbucks All Results 11,000,000
Google Starbucks Red Filter 653,000
CompFight Starbucks Commercial 5,024
CompFight Starbucks Creative Commons 22,247

Google Coffee

CompFight Coffee - Tag

CompFight COffee - Text

Google Starbucks

Google Starbucks with Red Filter

CompFight Starbucks- Commercial

CompFight Starbucks- Creative Commons Only

Comparison in terms of data

According to, in the month of October, 2009 Google Unique Visitors in the US is 146,027,962 while CompFight lags at only 9,113.

Traffic Rank


Alexa traffic rank for 11/11/2009:41,183; 3 month change -10,026

Daily Reach: Percent of global Internet users who visit


Time on Site: Daily time on site for


You can see some more interesting site data about it here


Compfight is a perfect tool for bloggers to utilize to find images for their posts. With a vast array of features and great settings for both commercial and non-commercial blogs, You will not be let down with Compfight's results once you find a search term that will give you what you're looking for. In comparison to Google Image Search, you won't have to worry about running into any legal issues down the line. However, from the Alexa data, one can see that Compfight is obviously not a big threat to Google's image search. Even though Google's search may not yield pretty pictures that Compfight finds on Flikr, it is much more functional. Its filter features by color, size, type as well as its superior syntax structure combined with vast database give people more options.

However, I will go to Compfight when I want to find pretty pictures. It is a site on which I want to spend time because the images are of much higher artistic quality than Google's image search.

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