Your Search Engine Sucks

I hear a lot about alternative search engines.  If you do some Googling searching on the subject, then you’ll quickly realize that there are many “alternatives” out there.  I’m not talking about companies such as Yahoo and Bing.  Of course we know that these guys are alright when it comes to search, but even they come up short.  So let’s quickly ponder about the type of challenges a search start-up faces in this space.

DuckDuckGo is the first one that comes to mind.  I see them pop up quite a bit since they constantly appear on hackernews.  The truth is that they would be fortunate if they could capture Bing’s share of search, let alone actually competing with Google.

The real question is why?  Why not at least give it a try, right?  After all, Google Chrome came out not too long ago and has quickly captured a large chunk of the market.  Keep in mind three things about that: 1) The browser market was no longer innovating at a fast pace.  2) Google has an immense amount of resources at their disposal 3) Google saw inefficiencies and knew they could improve upon them. 4) Developing a browser would fit well into their existing business model and future business opportunities.

Recently Google released a video on an internal discussion about search.  Watch that video and let this quote soak in for a moment:

The specific change discussed in this video improves spelling suggestions for searches with more than 10 words and it impacts only .1% of our traffic.

Google’s platform is so mature that these are the current problems that they are solving.  Do you really think that is what is going on at DuckDuckGo and similar search engines?  Hardly.  They are trying to solve problems that were solved years ago and will be playing catch-up for years to come, assuming they are still around.  Keep in mind .1% of Google’s traffic is at least 100 times more than DuckDuckGo’s TOTAL traffic right now.

The only hope a company has is to appeal to a specific niche or hope Google implodes.  A company that prides itself as a general all-purpose  search engine is wasting everyone’s time because you will not come close to Google in terms of accuracy.  Your best bet is that Google beats itself and does stupid things like implementing changes that appear to hurt accuracy, or favor their properties, or break referral data that is critical for SEO.

So which alternative search engines are worthwhile?  Obviously Twitter’s search performs better with real-time search queries than Google.  For example, if I want to know if Firehost is having issues, then I would turn to a Twitter search.

So what solution does DuckDuckGo solve?  Privacy concerns?  I’m not so sure.  People who complain about privacy are the same ones who use Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis.  Five years ago searches based on your previous search history were “revolutionary” and “the future”, but now they are “invasive”.  Interesting how perceptions change, isn’t it?

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear it.