With all of the news recently regarding deals between Microsoft-Yahoo, Yahoo-Google, Microsoft-Google, or any combination of the above, being an SEO project manager and working in those search engines day in and day out, I find it refreshing to see different companies and people placing effort into developing new, creative, and innovative ways to search.
I want to take a little time today to summarize just a tiny sampling of the many different search engines that are moving search forward.
Since I am a fan of shopping, and anything that makes it easier to find what I am looking for, I will start with Like.com.
This visual search engine uses both text and images as queries to make shopping more convenient. Simply find a photo of a product that you like or type in a query such as “silver women’s watch”, and the Like.com search engine will return a variety of results similar to the photo or matching the text query from a variety of retailers. That’s just the beginning. You can then highlight the aspects of a wrist watch that you like and Like.com will find other watches with similar styles, shapes, patterns and colors. You can then even further refine with different color, style, or brand options, creating a refreshingly unique shopping experience.
Still sticking with the visual pattern, but moving away from shopping is Viewzi, a visual search engine that has been under wraps since October 2007. With over 10 unique ways that users can view results, this search engine offers a pretty unique way to experience search.
Viewzi offers results in an array of different viewing options. First, a web screenshot view with an actual screenshot of the pages in the search results (from Yahoo! only). Or, a basic photo view displaying results from popular image sharing sites. There is the Video x3 view, curtailing results to display videos from YouTube, Blinkx, and Veoh with tags that allow users to dim out videos they don’t want displayed. Viewzi also offers a standard text view with combined results from Google and Yahoo, as well as a source view, which displays up to 15 results from the top four search engines. There is also the weather view, Amazon book view, celebrity photo view, an MP3 search view, as well as an everyday shopping view.
While Viewzi struggles a little to provide a user friendly atmosphere for casual web searching, it seems as though it has something for everyone.
We wrote about Powerset last September, but the search engine just recently launched a limited showcase version to the public. This Powerset version allows users to search against material within Wikipedia using natural language.
Powerset’s goal is to “improve the way we find information by unlocking the meaning encoded in ordinary human language.” And how, do you ask, is Powerset going to do that? Good question! Powerset’s pitch is that a user will get better search results because its technology has read and understood what every word within Wikipedia means.
Powerset says that it looks at each sentence and how the words relate to each other; it “understands” what the queries are and returns results that are better suited for the user. This search engine also offers unique tools in order to get more in-depth results, including query refinements where a search will return different tabs in all the different areas that the query could be related. Powerset also offers straightforward lists of facts that also relate directly to your search query, and outlines of the different results returned. Overall, depending on the query, the array of results can be a bit much; however, it is still a good step in the right direction for new and innovative ways to search.
At the end of the day…
Are any of the above engines on their way to ousting Google, or even Yahoo or Microsoft Live? Probably not. But it is nice to take a little trip away from the standard search methods we have all become quite accustomed to and see what could be coming up down the road.