Three new search options
Search options are increasing, as major search engines have introduce new services to capture more of the exploding search market, and newcomers introduce new technology to compete in an already competitive market.
Vivisimo has introduced Clusty, a meta-search engine that combines search results from several types of sources, and categorizes them on the fly into topical clusters. The new search engine returns fewer results than many of the current search champs, but it organizes the results more effectively, making them easier to use.
For example, a popular search recently has been "hurricanes". Clusty automatically clusters search results into "topics" by default, which show up as navigation options on the left of the page.
A search for hurricane created topical clusters like "weather", "typhoons", "disaster safety" and "hurricane aid". This lets users quickly dig into the results. Cluster offers several other options for clustering, including "Sources" and "URLs".
In addition to the clustering of results, Clusty provides tabs across the top, which will be familiar to users of Amazon or Google. The tabs let you find different types of search results, still related to your query. The "hurricane" query returned these results:
* News - news stories about the recent hurricanes;
* Images - hurricane-themed photos;
* Shopping - logo merchandise for the Miami Hurricanes football team;
* Encyclopedia - entries about hurricanes, hurricane locations and their categories; and
* Gossip - light news related to hurricanes, including how hurricanes improve Weather Channel ratings.
You can customize your results, adding or subtracting tabs. Tab options include eBay, Blogs and Slashdot. In addition, you can create your own tabs. A few clicks was all it took to add a tab for eBay, and the results were clustered just like other search results.
While Clusty is no Google-killer, it has features which are very useful, and could help Clusty stand out from the search engine pack.
Search Gets Personal
Yahoo!, meanwhile, is adding personalization features to search. Yahoo's Personal Search lets you:
* Save search results that you like;
* Block results that you don't like;
* Share results that you've saved; and
* Search items you've saved, with a Search My Web feature.
Yahoo! links to search results differently than many other search engines. Yahoo!'s results link to redirects, hosted by Yahoo!, rather than directly to a site.
The redirects let Yahoo! keep track of what search results generate the most click-throughs. In addition, Yahoo! knows what you've clicked on, so they can present you with a history of sites that you've visited recently, and market to you more intelligently.
Yahoo's ability to save and index pages has similarities to LookSmart's Furl. Furl lets you archive any web page, so you can recall and share web content. It's similar to bookmarking, except that Furl saves a copy of the web page, so you can revisit the page and see what it looked like when you saved it.
Furl is an interesting mix of bookmarking, search and blogging, and makes it easy to keep track of information sources. Yahoo!'s approach, however, may be better suited to serving up targeted paid links.
Google is expanding its book search program, Google Print. It includes the contents of print books in your search results. Amazon has been using similar technology at its site and its A9 search engine. Whenever a book has content that matches your search terms, Google will show links to that book in the results. Clicking on the link lets you view the page of the book that contains your search phrase.
Google will scan include books for free. Books need to have an ISBN number and be in English. As an incentive for publishers, Google offers a share of ad revenues. Publishers sign up for the program and send Google their books. Google scans and indexes the books. Google shows contextual ads with the search results, and gives a cut to the publishers.
Each of these new approaches is unique, and offers the potential to significantly improve search results. The changes in search technology are certain to provide opportunities, and challenges, for ebusinesses.