The vast majority of web searches continue to be conducted through Google, estimated at about 66.4% of all searches in early 2012. Google is understandably concerned about losing its market dominance. In December 2011, Microsoft’s upstart search engine Bing surpassed Yahoo and become the second most used search engine worldwide.
The only way Google can retain its lead is by continuing to provide the most relevant information to users, so it constantly rewrites its code, as with the new Penguin update that I mentioned here. Although Wikpedia has over 365 million readers and is ranked one of the top websites by Alexa, recent studies show that Google has determined that Wikipedia searches should not necessarily rank as high as other pages. Other search engines have evaluated it slightly differently.
Google may have cause for concern. A Toronto resident sat down at his computer late one Sunday evening and created what could be called the anti-Google search engine. Sanjay Arora is responsible for the creation of Million Short, what he dubs “a discovery engine.” And he did it overnight.
The premise behind the site is that it actually removes the most popular sites from search results (top sites are removed, not necessarily the top web results). You can adjust it to remove the top million sites, all the way down to the top one hundred most popular sites online. The rationale is that many of the spammy websites that try to game Google are automatically excluded, potentially providing a more robust and insightful result.
In essence, it gives you the results that Google won’t.
For legal researchers this could help unearth a treasure trove of more obscure legal web sites with legal commentary or case summaries that would be excluded in either high profile cases or in subject areas where there is a lot of competing but irrelevant information. For legal marketers, it’s yet another reminder that online activity should still be developed as an online conversation, with search results as a secondary consideration.
The site has already reached the top 10,000 most visited sites in the U.S. Arora doesn’t expect Million Short to become the next Google, but that’s exactly the point. If everyone is chasing Google’s golden grail, it leaves space in the market for people to develop the alternatives.