Lately every time I turn around, another new search engine comes out that’s supposed to be innovative and better than Google in some way or another. The latest announcement came from Google themselves, where they let the world know about the new Google Squared. Why Google would do this I can only guess is because their engineers have had a lot of free time on their hands.
Why this is even the subject of an article is because I am a search marketing professional. It’s my responsibility to evaluate every new search engine on behalf of my small and mid-size business clients. And They’re continually questioning me about these new resources that they’re hearing such great things about in the mainstream media…
I’m just amazed at how much money must be spent on all these new search initiatives, in the middle of such a flourishing economy (ah sarcasm is such a pressure reliever). I mean, heck – sure I get it that there’s big bucks in online marketing these days. I am, after all, a consultant in this industry.
So fine – you say you want to get some of that market share. And you are sure your proprietary method is going to be able to blow the socks off of users. Okay. Fine. Go for it.
But please – before you roll out your shiny new search vehicle, don’t you think it would be wise to get some real world outside opinions on the quality of it before you announce it to the world? Because you know this isn’t 1999, and thus you can’t just roll out a bag of hot air and expect to be well funded or to be able to go public and rake in billions based on a lie or a snow-job right?
Okay – so we all remember when Cuill came out right? They claim to be “The world’s biggest search engine“. Some of their top management are former Googlers even. Well, right from the beginning, the results many of us found were truly sad, indeed. Sites that had nothing to do with the phrases entered. Images that were obviously not related to the phrase. And the list of problems went on and on…
Well, here we are, a year later, and I figured, I’d see how their site has improved. Or not.
Now, if you recall from reading my last article on multi-site SEO and controlling back links, that one of my favorite topics is mesothelioma right? Specifically mesothelioma attorneys. If you hadn’t read that, it’s simple – one of my biggest clients is a law firm that specializes in the field.
So of course, the first thing I do when I go to a new search engine is to see how well my clients do in the results pages there.
And thus I did a search tonight at Cuil for the phrase mesothelioma attorney. The good news is that some actual law firms that appear from their page titles and descriptions, actually do show up in the Cuil results. That’s nice. The engineers at Cuil must have been working til their fingertips bled this past year. Because it’s gotten better than it used to be.
Except upon closer examination, I noticed that the third entry down is for a firm by the name Clapper, Patti, Schweizer & Mason. Didn’t take me a whole lot to figure that one out, given how it says so in the title AND description. (Chalk one up for my superior powers of observation).
But notice how the image to the right of that entry says “Simon, Eddin, & Greenstone”? WTF? And sure enough, that image links to the Clapper Patti site. And if you scroll down a bit you’ll see what appears to be a list of spelling variations on the phrase. Repeated no less than SIXTEEN times. And the link that’s associated with – I clicked on it.
NO DON’T CLICK ON IT.
Oops too late- it redirects to AdultFriendFinder.com
I could go on and on about the high quality results we now get thanks to the tireless sacrifices of the engineers over there. But that’s enough to illustrate my point I hope, about the quality of THAT endeavor.
FATHER WOLFRAM ALPHA
Fast Forward to spring 2009, and the annoncement of yet another miracle generator, WolframAlpha. This one is billed as a “computational knowledge engine™”. THEIR claim to fame is:
“The first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone. Enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and a growing collection of data to compute the answer.”
WTF does THAT mean?
Off to the right of the search form there’s some example searches you might want to perform. You can enter a date, a town name, two stock ticker symbols, formulas… Well, I entered my home town of Huntington, NY, a fairly robust town on Long Island where I grew up.
According to Wolfram Alpha (is this frakkin one or two words? They give mixed signals so I am clueless here folks), Huntington has a population of 198,621 people. Okay. So where did that number come from? Clicking on that figure just gives me a little AJAXY pop-up window that is completely worthless, thank you very much, except if I want to copy the text. Which I could have done without their help if they hadn’t made it a clickable link of an on the fly image display. So much for innovation…