Google, Yahoo and other search-engine companies have cornered the market on search via keywords. However, other organizations have seen opportunity in pushing their own search engines that either sift information through alternate means or focus on a narrow subset of subject matter-such as The Financial Times Group, which is rolling out Newssift.com, designed to search through thousands of global news sources through algorithms based on meaning and context.
Newssift.com, after sorting through those news sources, presents its search results in a granular fashion. Say you type "Bill Gates" into its search bar. The site will then allow you to further narrow the search by presenting a number of secondary topics (listed under the categories "Business Topic," "Organization," "Place," "Person" and "Theme") that are cross-indexed with the term "Bill Gates," such as "Global Health," "World Economic Forum" and "Google."
From there, the search can be further granulated, narrowing down the number of news articles and reports issued as results.
"The audience we're focusing on is high-up executives who need information to make decisions, as well as analysts and people in sales in marketing," John Greenleaf, chief marketing officer of FT Search, the company behind the site, said in an interview. "The results are driven purely by relevance and date-there are no sponsored links."
The site's revenue stream will eventually come from ads and a subscription aspect.
One aspect of the search engine's natural-language processing is what Greenleaf called "sentiment functionality," which determines based on the text whether the results display a positive, negative or neutral sentiment toward the subject. For example, articles on "Bill Gates" without any other modifying search terms were 32.67 percent positive, 21.78 percent negative and 45.54 percent neutral.
The site also displays the source of the various news and reports, delineating whether they appeared as online news or blogs, in newspapers or magazines, on a newswire, in research reports, or on television and radio.
Other sites have also been exploring new forms of search engines.
On Feb. 26, About.com co-founder Jim Anderson helped announce the release of Dorthy.com, a search engine that relies on AI and natural-language processing as opposed to keywords; while this different algorithmic approach to search might not necessarily have proved an instant Google-killer, it demonstrates that startups are thinking about ways to sidestep the keyword-based search dominance of Google, Yahoo and other major players.
Other search engines, such as Hakia, have also attempted to utilize natural language processing to generate more effective search results.
However, Google and Yahoo continue to dominate the overall search market.