Can you be won away from Google search?

Have you followed any of the links from this blog to BlogHer? Perhaps you’ve noticed that the search feature on BlogHer now has a Lijit logo in the search box. Under that, you see two options. Search or search the BlogHer network. If you search the BlogHer network, you find posts on your search words found in any blog that is part of the BlogHer network.

The Lijit search is perfect for BlogHer. It helps BlogHer fulfill its key mission of locating and linking to the world of women’s blogs.

I’ve been looking at Lijit search ever since Amy Gahran mentioned it at BlogHer08. For the people who can make it work as intended, such as BlogHer, it succeeds in widening search results for your own writing or for the writing of a whole network of women. As a reader here, you know I’ve been going through trials of Lijit on this blog. I’m pretty sure it’s going to remain on this blog.

Lijit isn’t the type of search engine that searches the entire web, like Google. It is meant to search a specific network of information. It’s competing with Google in terms of “search my blog” searches, but not for “search the web” searches.

There are search engines that compete directly with Google. Two of them recently announced changes that they hope will help them move eyeballs away from Google to their brand of search. The two announcing revamped search this week are and

In Welcome to the all new, Ask touts the fact that they claim to provide the best answers to your questions, faster and with fewer clicks.

Svetlana Gladkova from profy commented on the changes in Rolls Out Yet Another Overhaul to Make Search Faster and More Relevant. She wrote,

So today we are seeing yet another attempt by Ask to achieve more impressive results in the search market by increasing speed and relevance of search results. Today’s overhaul reflects results of work that was initiated in January. Starting today users will experience reduction of search results download speed by 30% which is supposed to be the most important result of the overhaul. The majority of changes introduced today will remain invisible to users since they are about increasing the number of pages Ask indexes along with some improvements of the ranking algorithm (no additional details on that unfortunately).

But the most visible result of the overhaul is replacing cluttered 3-column view for search results with 2-column one where the largest space is given to the traditional list of links to the relevant pages while the smaller right column also offering some related search phrases that could probably help find better results. The search results column also offers a selection of tabs for user to choose what type of content is needed for the search – general web pages, images, news, or Q&A where results are served from various places that answer questions related to your search term. Searching other sections is also possible via the drop-down More menu.

According to an article in eWeek, Sails into Semantic Search to Differentiate from Google, the differences are most noticable in searches for categories such as entertainment, health, jobs and reference. According to the article, the Ask search uses a different method of determining relevance and handling word order. I tested Ask and Google with this search: artists in New Mexico who use collage.

ask results
google results

Google did better with this search. Google listed some art schools, but actually had a New Mexico collage artist on the first page of results. Ask listed general New Mexico information, two listings for Democracy in New Mexico, and one art site on the first page of results. The sponsored results on Ask were better—art schools and art galleries. Maybe if I’d asked about health or a job the results would be different.

The other revamped search engine trying to lure you away from your reliance on Google is Vanessa Fox, at Search Engine Land, mentions Hakia’s new search twist in Hakia Relaunches site with “Trusted Results.” She explains:

Today at SMX East, natural language search engine Hakia has launched a new search experience that enables searchers to view categorized results, as well as view “Trusted” Results” from “Credible Sites”.

The Trusted Results program is an initiative Hakia has developed with information professionals and librarians. . . .

So far, these results are available for health, medical, and environmental topics and they are looking to expand coverage.

CJ, at Science for SEO, explains further in Hakia’s new stuff:

They’ve added the “credible sites” tab, where you can look at results from authorities, such as edu, gov and such sites, and they’re asking librarians to suggest sites and “information professionals” (I’m not sure who that covers). The resources must be current, peer reviewed, non-commercial and authentic (or at least fulfill most of these requirements).

For now you can only use it for the topics of the environment, health and medicine. The sites are by experts, although anyone can submit a resource.

Hakia’s search results are noticebly different. A series of tabs across the top of the results offers these topics: All results, Credible sites, News, Images, and Meet Others. (When you click Meet Others, you can open a chat room on your topic.) On the results page, you see sections of the page devoted to categories such as Web Results, News Results, and Images.

google results
hakia results

I gave Hakia and Google a test. I searched for “what prevents stomach pain.”

This time, I think the prize goes to Hakia. I especially thought the credible sites tab was valuable. There is so much misinformation and snake oil in health areas that some trustworthiness in results seems valuable. I’m not saying the results on Google were bad or less trustworthy, but I don’t know. I’d have to do the work of evaluating the links myself to decide. Hakia did the work for me.

To sum up, you might want to consider replacing the Google search on your blog with one by Lijit, and you might like using Hakia or Ask to search for information in specific categories. But I think most of us are still going to rely on Google for most things. What do you think?

Cross posted at BlogHer.

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