There are several alternatives to Google, and it could be argued that many are as good if not better at delivering the core product to the end user. In Google’s case, they have developed an impressive suite of applications and it’s difficult to find another brand so comprehensively proficient in web tools. Let’s focus on their core product though, search.
A brief history of search
Remember the early days of the Internet, before Google became an everyday verb? The first mainstream search engines enjoyed a relatively even playing field, with Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Lycos and Ask Jeeves providing search to most early adopters of the web. These days, Google’s global market share is over 80%; with Yahoo, Microsoft’s Bing and Chinese provider Baidu scrapping over the odd 5% here and there. The rest is a ‘long tail’ of pretty insignificant and largely untrusted search portals.
The newest fighter to step into the ring is Samuru, from experienced SEO Brandon Wirtz’s company, Stremor.
Is Samuru better than Google?
It’s certainly different. If you believe a well-written web page is more relevant than one which has more backlinks, then the principle of Samuru is a step in the right direction. The optimistic fan of the underdog would say it is better. The realist would say it may become better. The truth is, by Stremor’s own admission, it is still early days. Crawling the net takes months, and Samuru is starting from scratch using a brand new method.
So how is Samuru different?
Samuru uses qualitative rather than quantitative methods in its search algorithm, or ‘language heuristics’, as Wirtz calls it. Liquid Helium, the technology behind Samuru, focuses on the quality of text that is written. This includes factors such as bias, grammar, and tone; as well as implications in a search phrase.
Whilst Google looks at Page Rank, backlinks, keyword density and how established a page or domain is, Samuru considers relevance in a much more linguistic way. Samuru wants to personalise your search results according to the meaning of your search phrase. Google is inclined to see your search phrase either severally (results relating to each word in that keyword phrase) or collectively (searching for the instance of that exact phrase in a web page with high page rank).
The quality not quantity scenario also applies to the number of search results provided. Who actually wants to see several million search results? We are fooled into percieving value from those flagship figures in whatever fraction of a second they took to be decided upon. Samuru will list a page of up to 50 results, knowing that you really only want good information based on the query you submitted. Not a fanfare of numbers.
Time will tell, but Samuru has the potential to be what Apple did to IBM; ie the choice for the clever minority. Whether it can muster up the marketing power to get close even to Bing and Yahoo, is sadly a tall order. Until then, tomorrow is just another day in the sun for the world’s favourite search engine.