Search Engines, Meet Social Networking

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.