Eurekster started life in 2004 as a “personalized search engine” for consumers. How ahead of its time the company was. The idea was to provide a layer of “social search” results on top of the general results. In late 2004 the company announced a partnership with Friendster, then the hot social network, for social search among registered Friendster users that would rank results according to relevance as determined by your network.
Since that time, the company has evolved into something more complex and interesting than a pure “social search” engine such as Mahalo, which is a kind of return to the Yahoo! directory of old. Eurekster sits at the center of several Internet trends, including vertical search, communities, blogging, widgets, and, more recently, video. Today it officially comes out of beta.
The company’s “product” is the Swicki, which Eurekster calls a “custom search portal.” Swickis can be built around any topic, idea, or niche and placed, as a widget, on any blog or site. They offer site search and Web search. But it’s also the case that Swickis are a kind of vertical search engine “in a box” that can be rolled out as stand alone sites. Publishers or bloggers can also add existing Swickis to their sites.
According to the company, over 100,000 Swickis have been created to date. They together capture approximately 25 million search queries monthly. Search results on any individual site change according to users’ explicit voting on results and implicit user behavior (clickstream analysis). Users are also able to add sites to the index. (Web results are drawn from several existing search indexes, as well as Eurekster’s own crawling.)
What the company has created is a distributed social search engine, which has no single entry point. The flip side of this is a very targeted niche ad network that can be sliced and diced by content, as well as other variables. Google is attempting to do the same thing with its Custom Search Engine. In contrast to Google, however, Eurkester has built its network and products in relative obscurity for most people in the industry. But the the company has created a fascinating and many faceted search product that is worth greater attention.