Friday, March 25, 2005

First Look at Yahoo! 360

Yahoo! 360 is launching a limited beta release on Tuesday (3/29/05). And they already gave some analysts the chance to check it out.

Charlene Li from Forrester has a complete description of the features and Yahoo's vision. According to the review, Yahoo is basically trying to integrate all its services (e.g. groups, pictures, reviews, music, etc) into a "blog" environment. In addition, they are adding flexible security settings and lots of sharing mechanisms.

I will circulate a more extensive review of Yahoo! 360 once I get my hands around a beta account.

Here is Charlene Li's full review.

Friday, March 18, 2005

SearchFox Beta - The Personalized Web Experience

My name is Esteban Kozak, product manager for SearchFox. I want to introduce SearchFox and give you the chance to test drive it.

Let me start by posting the problem we are trying to solve. Search algorithms, like Page Rank, have grown broad, overwhelming and generic. Still good at finding the needle in the haystack, if you know enough about the needle, but not helpful when you are trying to accomplish any of the following tasks:

- Go back to useful content you visit all the time,
- Get interesting content about a topic,
- Learn from people and communities you care about.

So we decided to add context and human intelligence to the search world. In order to do so, we developed a social bookmarking tool that overcomes three of the biggest challenges in this area:

1. A way for individuals and groups to define vertical search spaces (you are starting to see this with A9's "Open Search", Become.com and mobissimo.com)

2. A way to converge folksonomies into a coherent index inside those vertical spaces

3. A way to leverage human intelligence in order to let users drive the ranking algorithm

We are already delivering on #2 ("real-time search" and "keyword suggest") and #3 ("sort by use" and much more to come on this). In a few weeks, we'll be launching "My World". "My World" will allow you to define your vertical space, you'll be able to group individuals and join communities. Your personal groups will remain small and relevant to your interests, although some will develop into bigger topic driven communities.

Let me pause here and let you try SearchFox first.

To get started, sign up at: http://www.searchfox.com/register.php. We'll send you an username and password right away.

Alternatively, you can try SearchFox using the following "guest" credentials:

Username: visitor
Password: myguest

We encourage you to sign up and get the toolbar to unlock SearchFox full potential.

We are looking forward to get your feedback on our current product. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions,

Esteban Kozak
SearchFox
esteban@searchfox.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A9 Launches "Open Search" - Vertical Search, Syndicated

From A9.com:

"We want OpenSearch to do for search what RSS has done for content."
OpenSearch is a collection of technologies, all built on top of popular open standards, to allow content providers to publish their search results in a format suitable for syndication. You can
see how this works on A9.com.

Many sites today return search results as an tightly integrated part of the website itself. Unfortunately, those search results can't be easily reused or made available elsewhere, as they are usually wrapped in HTML and don't follow any one convention. OpenSearch offers an alternative: an open format that will enable those search results to be displayed anywhere, anytime. Rather than introduce yet another proprietary or closed protocol, OpenSearch is a straightforward and backward-compatible extension of RSS 2.0, the widely adopted XML-based format for content syndication.

Any site that has content—and a search box—can choose to return results in OpenSearch RSS. This includes travel sites, classifieds, encyclopedias…. If you can provide search results for something, it probably can fit into the OpenSearch model. Returning OpenSearch results is easy—the format is the standard set of XML elements, plus three additional elements designed to support navigation between pages.

OpenSearch is comprised of:
OpenSearch RSS: XML format for providing open search results.
OpenSearch Description Documents: XML files that identify and describe a search engine.
OpenSearch Aggregators: Sites, such as A9.com, that can display OpenSearch results.

OpenSearch is not a search engine—it is a way for search engines to publish their search results in a standard and accessible format. And because OpenSearch is built on top of standard RSS, existing tools—such as blog readers—can read OpenSearch results natively. While existing RSS tools can't take advantage of all of the advanced features that OpenSearch offers, this backward compatibility guarantees a rich set of client applications for OpenSearch today.

If you are a content developer and already have a search engine for your site, you will want to read through the documentation on OpenSearch RSS and the OpenSearch Description, along with the OpenSearch Query Specification.

Alternatively, existing search engines can be wrapped so that HTML search results are translated into OpenSearch RSS results. Please keep in mind that you will need the permission of the search engine itself before wrapping someone else's search results. Some content providers will encourage this, and will gladly allow their search results to be syndicated. Be sure to explicitly check the terms of use of any content you wish to redistribute.

This is just the beginning of OpenSearch. We look forward to hearing your suggestions and feedback about how this model can be extended in the future to support all types of search and customer experiences.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

State of The Blogosphere, March 2005

From Sifry.com:

Technorati is now tracking over 7.8 million weblogs, and 937 million links. That's just about double the number of weblogs tracked in October 2004. In fact, the blogosphere is doubling in size about once every 5 months. It has already done so at this pace four times, which means that in the last 20 months, the blogosphere has increased in size by over 16 times.

Full Report:

http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000298.html

Monday, March 14, 2005

Blog Reader Survey Results

From searchviews.com:

Some interesting results in this year's BlogAds Reader Survey.

Looks like your average blog reader is most likely to be:

Male
Over 30
A Democrat
Has signed a petition of some sort
Believes in the usefulness of blogs as a source of news & opinion


Clearly, these demographics are the mark of a relatively intelligent, well-groomed bunch and not the unwashed masses the old guard would have us believe.

Most surprising about the survey - not many are using RSS (72.4%) and few have their own blogs (79.3%).

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tools for Exploring the Blogosphere

From searchenginewatch.com:

There's a lot of great content being published in blogs these days, but it isn't always easy to find. While many bloggers link to other blogs, you're never really sure what the motivation is for providing the link. And even though blog search engines work well for finding specific posts related to a topic, they don't do a very good job of identifying specific bloggers that write regularly on topics that might interest you.

Today's SearchDay article, A Cool Blog Discovery Tool features services from Blogstreet that go beyond simple approaches, surfacing relationships and interlinkages between blogs that might not otherwise be readily apparent. These tools can help pinpoint bloggers that you might not otherwise stumble upon in the increasingly crowded reaches of the blogosphere.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Blog Tools: Blogrolling.com

BlogRolling is a one-stop linklist manager for your blog or journal, helping you manage your ever-evolving linklist with ease. Managing your linklist still means having to crawl through the HTML in your template every time you want to add or remove a link. No more! Now it's as simple as clicking a link or making a pit stop at BlogRolling.

You'll never have to interrupt your surfing to add a cool new site to your linklist - just add the BlogRolling 1-click link to your browser's links and click it whenever a site catches your eye. Voila, instant linkage!

Here is another player in this space:

http://www.movalog.com/archives/plugins/mt-blogroll/mt-blogroll-10.php

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

FAQ : How do I move imported bookmarks to a new group?

Create the new group here. Then import the bookmarks again. Make sure to select the new group from the pull down menu.

SearchFox will automatically delete duplicated bookmarks from the old group.

Vertical Search Facts #2

From www.ClickZ.com

The paid search market will more than double from $2.6 billion in 2004 to $5.5 billion in 2009, and that growth will be driven by the "four horsemen" of vertical search, according to a new study by JupiterResearch.

The study, "Vertical Search: Early Marketers Will Reap Rewards of Low Pricing," predicts that the paid search industry will evolve similarly to media markets like television and magazines: with broad-based engines spawning a host of vertical players devoted to specific categories.

The study finds that paid search is densely concentrated within primary categories, or verticals: retail, financial services, travel, and media and entertainment. These "four horsemen" accounted for 79 percent of spend on paid search in the U.S. in 2004.

"If you look at the way other media have matured historically, they began with broad brands like Time and Life magazines that later spawned products targeting special interest niches," said Niki Scevak, the lead analyst on the study. "We began to see the same thing with search last year."

The study was based on analysis of comScore Media Metrix data quantifying the number of consumers the top five search engines drive to various categories; commercial density figures derived from executive interviews and SEC filings; and keyword pricing information provided by a number of search engine marketing companies, including iProspect.

Among the four leading verticals, retail and travel are the most developed and will continue to be the top categories through 2009. The researchers predict both markets will almost double in size over the next four years, with travel increasing from $54 billion to $91 billion and online retail growing from $66 billion in 2004 to $130 billion in 2009.

Examples of already established vertical search engines devoted to retail include Shopping.com and Shopzilla.com, with many more start-up engines like Become.com (a search engine devoted specifically to comparison shopping) expected to launch in the next 18 months. Travel search engines like Yahoo!'s FareChase, Kayak.com, SideStep and Mobissimo have also begun to make an impact in recent months.

While the four horsemen account for the bulk of paid search, the telecommunications category has exhibited strong growth in the last two years, accounting for four percent of the search market in 2003 and growing to six percent in 2004.

The pricing of paid search advertising is also projected to grow strongly from 2004 to 2009. Revenue will grow from $13.50 per-thousand-queries in 2003 to $28.05 per-thousand in 2009.

FAQ : How do I manage imported bookmarks/favorites?

There are a few ways you can see your imported bookmarks/favorites. If you do a blank query, you'll see them all at once. You can sort them by frequency of use, title and time. The bookmark's original folder in Firefox becomes a keyword when you import bookmarks into SearchFox. Therefore, if you type a folder name, SearchFox will display all the bookmarks in that folder. You can edit these keywords by clicking the "edit" link. You can use advanced syntax if you want to add more flexible qualifiers.

If you want to move imported favorites to a new group, check here.

FAQ : I can't find a way to delete the "My Stuff" group?

At this time, you can't delete all your bookmarks at once or your default group. However, we are happy to run a script that deletes all the bookmarks in your "my stuff" group. Send us an email.

FAQ : I get the following error message when creating a group: "The link you are trying to access is not in SearchFox"

The system needs to identify each group with a unique "group ID". The "group ID" works like an invisible tag that the system uses to determine which users are allowed to see the links and how. The error is shown because the "group ID" is taken. Change the "group ID" and try again.

Vertical Search Facts

Market analyst Jupiter Research, a division of Jupitermedia Corp., issued a study that predicts growth in vertical search, particularly as the bid prices for popular keywords on general search engines such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. rise. Jupiter Research based its report on a finding that 79 percent of the $2.6 billion spent on paid search last year in the United States fit into four categories—retail, financial services, media and entertainment, and travel.

2 out of 5 users arrive at vertical search engines from broad-based engines such as Google or Yahoo!

Recent entries in the vertical search space:

GlobalSpec, in what it calls "The Engineering Web," has indexed 100,000 Web sites and about 20 million Web pages about industrial products, specifications and parts

Become.com's beta returns results based on an index of Web pages from 22 million U.S.-based shopping sites. The results include links to product reviews, buying guides and articles.

Startup search sites already are heavily pursuing the travel and retail categories. Already this year, Kayak Software Corp. launched its travel search site after earlier gaining an investment from America Online Inc. It competes with SideStep Inc., QIXO Inc. Mobissimo, and Yahoo's beta of FareChase.

More on this space in future postings...