Semanti Nov. 3 has joined Gogimon and TigerLogic as the latest in a raft of software providers looking to augment search results from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft with a browser add-on.
One key difference: Semanti's free SemantiFind plug-in employs semantic search to help users refine their search results and boost the activity for those Web sites by ranking them as useful with one click.
The add-on, which plants a toolbar on users' browsers, was originally offered for Google and received so-so reviews from ReadWriteWeb in September. Semanti added Yahoo and Microsoft support today, giving it coverage of some 90 percent of the search market.
Semanti provides a demonstration of the tool using Google in a video. Semanti CEO Bruce Johnson did a search for "Porsche mileage" on a browser augmented with SemantiFind. When he entered Porsche into Google, he saw pop-up definitions of Porsche, and two definitions for mileage, one for distance traveled and one for fuel economy.
Upon hitting enter, he saw search results from SemantiFind at the top of the page, with Google results underneath. Google results were ambiguous, which Johnson said illustrates the problem with traditional search engines. Because SemantiFind takes into account the multiple meanings of search queries, it was able to provide more accurate results for the user.
Johnson also did a search for "Porsche fuel economy." Google provided different results, but SemantiFind yielded the same results as the "Porsche mileage" search because it understands the user's intent behind the search. Moreover, SemantiFind helps users filter out the noise associated with Google results by graying out the inaccurate results.
How does SemantiFind get its results? Crowdsourcing, of course. Searchers can boost the ranking of quality Web pages they found useful through SemantiFind by clicking the Semantify button in the SemantiFind toolbar.
This action remembers the search queries a user entered so the next time a user searches for something comparable, the Web page will show up in the SemantiFind results. This will work for not just the searcher who entered the results, but for anyone doing searches in the future. Think of it as a virtual bookmark of sorts.
In short, the searches you do on SemantiFind today will influence the searches you or someone else does tomorrow. This is great in theory, but it also means SemantiFind needs to have a lot of people searching on it to boost the value of the plug-in.
SemantiFind is essentially providing semantic search results on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft without a whole new search engine, which is an interesting value proposition.
Johnson told eWEEK Semanti didn't want to be another Hakia, Ask.com or Powerset, all of which created their own search engines. He said the current searches people are accustomed to are good enough for 80 percent of Web searchers.
SemantiFind is free for users, mainly because you can't charge for a general search engine and expect to make money and Semanti wants to build out a big user base.
In the future, Johnson said he hoped to make money through placing ads alongside SemantiFind results. No small double-edged sword here: Some users are already worn out from ads alongside Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Adding them alongside the SemantiFind plug-in may alienate users. We'll see.