I have used a lot search engines over the years. Most have been pretty bad while some have been generally usable. Before Google, I was a big one on using Yahoo, as it “sucked” the least at the time. Today, Google remains the leading king regardless of how many other “meta-search” engines attempt to gain a piece of Google’s pie.
At one point there was a lot of hope for a search engine called Cuil, as its developers had hoped that their own unique search algorithm. Sadly, after using it myself, I found it to be too busy for daily use, often not providing me with the content I was looking for and generally a “meh” kind of experience. Google on the hand apparently manages to work because it is not trying to reinvent the wheel after striking gold during its own creation.
While there is always work to keep black hat SEO types from manipulating it, the original formula of ranking based on who likes or links to the page in question, is clearly showing the what the people want. It may not be perfect, but for whatever reason, it is clearly demonstrating that there is a need for some human control for accuracy along the way in the quest for search engine salvation.