Searchme Bings Better than Bing

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Searchme.com has gone offline, and are offering their IP for sale.

Searchme.com vs. BingI intended to write about how Bing influences the SEO spectrum this week, but instead, I will write about another search engine I accidentally stumbled upon during some random research. Why do I choose something not many Internet users know about instead of a popular topic? Because the “little people” do not have $100 million USD to pump in a PR campaign to promote something that, aside from being a noisy name and containing some apparent structure, is nothing but hype.

I will, of course, publish my take on Bing and SEO, but not today. Today I invite you to discover what a modern search engine should really look like.

Visual Is Good

Searchme is a visual search engine, beautifully executed, although they pretty much spoil it by displaying ads by Google on the results page.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

The results are usually relevant — for example, searching for mystery novels will give Amazon’s Mystery and Thrillers on the forth position, and some other related and relevant results following, but…

Searching for “sitepoint blogs” comes with an unexpected surprise:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

How could this happen? The content on the page listed by Searchme scrapes original content from SitePoint, this is how. But the more important question is: what types of content filters are used by Searchme (note that I set the preferences to filter out adult content) and how is the company going to address this issue?

On one hand, being able to see a screenshot of a page before clicking on a link is positive: we will no longer waste time wondering whether the content we expect is there. The way Searchme displays these screenshots is pretty relevant too. Note in the image below that Searchme generates screenshots that highlight the keywords on the site and that these screenshots are accompanied by relevant snippet of content.

Searchme.com content display, detailed view.

Social Is Good, Too

Another thing I like about Searchme is the “share” feature, which allows sharing the search results via Twitter, Facebook or email. What is very interesting here is that when you click the share button you will not send to your network the bulk search results, but the one that appears in the foreground, with the other results stretching on the right and left, as per the standard Searchme display mode.

Preferences Are Good As Well

Searchme’s preferences allow users to choose whether they want to view adult content or not (although, as I already proved above this feature doesn’t work properly); and offers other choices like the ability to toggle between two different backgrounds for the search engine (night theme and day theme), open links in the same window or a new one, turn media autoplay on or off, and finally chose display mode between Searchme full and Searchme lite.

Stacks Are Great

I simply love this feature: Searchme allows you to save the most relevant results of your choice in a visual gallery. You can create as many stacks as you want, name them and categorize them, and of course, share these with your friends, add them to a blog, and etc:

Searchme View in searchme: full | lite
Searchme.com — the Brand

Not the best brand name; actually, it is so bad that I almost didn’t click on their link when I first saw it. My first reaction was: oh, no, not another Google killer wannabe! I imagined a cheap attempt to create a meta search engine that returns screenshots of the given query, followed by some snippets of text — pretty much like the Searchme Lite version, that doesn’t impress at all, and it doesn’t even represent Searchme’s main strength.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

What were they thinking when choosing this name? That people will fall in love with it and suddenly go “searchmeing” instead of “googling”? Is it as obvious for you as it is for me why Searchme is not a good name for a search engine? The call to action, “search me” reminds me of a situation where an innocent person is accused of stealing something and encouraging his/her accuser: “Search me, you’ll see that I don’t have it.”

One main rule of branding is to choose a name that is memorable, and can “differentiate your cow from all of the other cattle on the range. Even if all the cattle on the range look pretty much alike” (Al Ries and Laura Ries; “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding”). Some companies live under the impression that the quality they offer is enough to make a brand stand out, but quality alone is not what makes a brand. I could go on forever explaining why Searchme is a bad brand name, but right now I don’t think it is very important. The important factor is the technology used by this search engine to display search results. The brand name may change: after all, what is Bing if not MSN and Live rebranded?

Conclusion

Whenever a new search engine emerges we expect something fresh and revolutionary. Searchme is far from being perfect now, but it is a startup, and we have to give all startups the chance to learn and to grow. But, in its current form, Searchme almost convinced me to make the switch. Searchme full (and not Searchme lite) is what the search engine of the future should offer: relevant results in a visually appealing form, with sharing functionality, added interface flexibility and the option to save results in collections! Can you think of anything else?

Mihaela LicaMihaela Lica
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