A Long Way to Go to Catch Google
A search on "pizza, Fairfield, Ct." returned local pizzerias along with a Yahoo Map offering directions to five restaurants. This is very valuable. A search for "cancer" shows a similar setup for results, but with a key change: A Categories section appears atop the Expanded Searches and Twitter boxes in the right-hand rail, offering to take users to Websites with information on cancer causes, treatments, statistics and more.But none of them currently cover as much ground on the Web from a semantic standpoint as Yebol will be able to do in November, Landis claimed. The company actually has all of the terms indexed, but is refining the visual presentation of them, he said. The real-time capabilities ensure that Yebol's index will grow at a prodigious rate. When it comes to other search engines, "They've all got X number of search terms, usually one- and two-word search terms that they have been able to create algorithms for that scour the Internet for related topics and give you additional information for that search term outside of just the PageRank lists [from Google]," Landis said. Yet Landis claimed that is no longer how users are searching. For example, before users became so reliant on search engines like Google, they conducted basic one or two-word searches such as "Tom Cruise." Today, Landis argued, users search for more complex queries, such as "Tom Cruise Katie Holmes fight." But this all depends on context. While it is true that users are conducting more complex searches on Google, Bing and other engines, there are still plenty of basic keyword searches piping through search engines. Indeed, a user looking for biographical information on the actor may likely enter "Tom Cruise." Even so, Landis said Yebol will provide semantic search results for searches that span entire paragraphs in length. Yet even if Yebol pulls this off, it has no well-lighted path to success, as few search engine startups prosper in Google's massive shadow. For example, Cuil launched in 2008 but has hardly made a dent. Bing, thanks to Microsoft's brand and $100 million marketing push, is gaining some market share, although at 8.9 percent it is well behind Google's roughly 65 to 70 percent share of the market.
Google, Yahoo, Microsoft's Bing and semantic search providers offer some of what Yebol aims to offer in total. For example, Google boasts great scale, but it does not rely on a bulk of semantic search to achieve it, nor does it surface Twitter tweets. Bing indexes Twitter tweets, and, like Hakia and Kosmix, it provides semantic search.