Disclosure: Read/WriteWeb will be going live shortly with a custom Eurekster search box.
One of the big pieces of news this week has been Google's new Custom Search Engine. It's noticeable not because it's an innovative product, but more because Google is most definitely a follower and not a leader when it comes to custom / social search. Not only are there a number of small startups already doing the same thing, but one of their direct competitors Yahoo! has been doing social search for quite some time. So it was a little humorous to see the Google Blog post trumpeting custom search as a "Eureka!" moment. Also my immediate thought upon seeing the post, entitled "Eureka! Your own search engine has landed!", was that they were taking a sly dig at Eurekster. Mike Arrington also picked up on this.
Read/WriteWeb profiled the social search space back in July, with a well-read post by Ebrahim Ezzy entitled Search 2.0 vs Traditional Search. It's worth doing a quick update on that post, to clarify exactly where Google fits in.
A reminder of Ebrahim's definition of what we termed "search 2.0". He defined it as a service that combines "the scalability of existing internet search engines with new and improved relevancy models; they bring into the equation user preferences, collaboration, collective intelligence, a rich user experience, and many other specialized capabilities that make information more productive."
As we noted, a number of small startups are doing custom and social search engines: Eurekster, Rollyo, Clusty, Lexxe to name only a few.
Where the competition stands
Now let's take a high level look at which of the small startups is leading this 'space' currently, via our old friend Alexa:
It's clear that Eurekster is the leading player right now, but of course both Google and Yahoo are extremely capable of taking a big share of the market.
Eurekster comments on Google launch
I emailed Eurekster's Chief Scientist Dr Grant Ryan (who is a fellow kiwi) and asked what he thought of the Google Custom Search launch? As to be expected, he took an optimistic view of the situation:
"This Google launch has been great for our swicki creation rate - seems to have increased by a factor of about 10! The reason this is great is that we no longer have to explain why building your own search engine is a good thing to do and people seem keen to check out the company that has been doing it for the longest. It is a compliment that Google and Yahoo have chosen to follow us into the vertical social search space (how often is Google a follower when it comes to search....)."
Nice little dig back at Google in that last line ;-) But of course Eurekster and the others like Rollyo and Clusty know only too well that Google and Yahoo are big threats in this market. While right now the offerings of Google and Yahoo aren't as sophisticated as the startups they're emulating, they have the big advantage of resources and reach.
However Grant says Eurekster has "lots of cool new features coming out soon that [will take] the idea of publishing your own search engine to the next level." I'm sure Rollyo, Clusty, Lexxe and others will be planning similar upgrades. So as usual, it's the consumer who wins out in the end!