Search Engines, Meet Social Networking

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-01-23 Print this article Print

Startup search site Eurekster incorporates social networking into its results, giving a higher ranking to sites visited by a user's friends.

A startup search site launched this week is using social networking technology as a way to personalize search results based on a users network of friends. Eurekster Inc. on Wednesday introduced it search site that tweaks the relevancy ratings of results according to the recent search queries of a users friends. The site also lets users view the most popular search queries among their friends, said Grant Ryan, CEO of the San Francisco-based company.
"The Internet is such a huge place with all this information. How do you know whats good?" Ryan said. "This uses the natural process of finding out about things by word of mouth."
Eurekster plugs into the Web index and search results from Yahoo Inc. subsidiary Overture for both its Web search results and for sponsored results. But it adds its own technology on top of the Overture Web results that links into social networks. For now, users must build their social networks through Eurekster by inviting friends to join the site and accepting invitations to join other users networks. But Eurekster eventually wants to partner with other social networking and search sites to broaden the appeal of its approach to Web searches, Ryan said. "Were certainly talking to people in both sectors," he said. Users fearing that their friends will be able to see all their search queries need not fret, Ryan said. Eurekster includes privacy features so users can block specific searches from being seen by others—both when they enter a search query and after they receive results. Eurekster was founded by SLI Systems Inc. and RealContacts Ltd. SLI Systems, of San Francisco, provides search services to corporations and Web sites, while RealContacts is involved in social networking services for recruitment. Ryan is also CEO of RealContacts, based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Eureksters search and social networking features are free. The company expects to earn revenue based on users click-throughs to Overtures paid search listings.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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