Support Indie Search, While You Still Can

So last night my 6 year old nephew Berkeley called me at home to sell me some popcorn for his Cub Scout troop. Since he lives about 4 hours downstate, I asked what he thought would be the best way for me to make a purchase through him. He told me to go online to see what I wanted, and then just call him back to place the order. His exact response was perfect though:

Uncle Chip, just go to Google, and then go to Cub Scouts selling popcorn.

First of all, not a bad search query for a 6 year old. So good in fact, I decided to follow his advice to the letter. I have to admit, I found exactly what I needed. I was impressed. After all, I can’t tell you how much traffic I see come into client sites that isn’t nearly as focused.

Second, it made painfully clear to me that this 6 year old is representative of an ever growing percentage of the population that thinks Google=Search – or at least The Big 4=Search.

Given that, it should be no surprise that a couple more independent search options have fallen by the way-side, or at least took an un-reversible step in that direction.

RIP – WiseNut:

One of my all time favorite search engines, WiseNut, has closed up shop – and it went with what I would consider to be less than a whimper. In fact, a search for WiseNut in Google News returns absolutely no results for the past 30 days.

Can a search engine, however small, be taken down and have no one so much as mention it? Now I realize that very few people have the affection for WiseNut that I do, but we shouldn’t ignore the contributions that the engine has made to the search landscape.

For example, how many people realize that WiseNut released a feature called “sneak-a-peek”, which is basically Ask.com’s binoculars, way back in 2001 – even before WiseNut was purchased by LookSmart?

Judy’s Book – The Final Chapter:

Judy’s Book, which has to be one of the more well known independent local shopping options, and which has received over $10.5 million dollars in venture capital since it was founded in 2004, has been forced to layoff nearly all of its 12 employees this week.

Reportedly struggling to adjust the company’s business model, Andy Stack (the CEO) was quoted as saying, “It sucks…You don’t start companies to get to this day. You start companies to get to a different day.”

While I doubt Stack’s lack of poetics had much of anything to do with the company’s hardship, he has stated that he will stay on and look for a buyer – hoping not to close the doors unless a buyer does not surface in time.

Regardless of whether or not Judy’s Book ends up closing up shop, or being bought out by a larger player, the world loses an independent search option either way.

Now it’s not all gloom and doom for independent search, in fact more and more independent local search options seem to pop up each and every day. However, if we want any of them to stick around, and if we want to have options outside of the Google and Yahoo dominated landscape, we had better support them while we can.