The Future of Virtual Search Lies in Surprising Hands

October 12, 2017

The world of text-based search has its days numbered. At least, that’s what some experts are saying when they discuss virtual search engines. But should we be throwing today’s strongest text-based search giants on the scrap heap? It’s not that easy, according to Search Engine Watch in a new article called, “Pinterest, Google, or Bing: Who Has The Best Virtual Search Engine?”

Historically, we know that video, images, and articles have been cataloged in a text-based system for search. This keyword-based system that Google has perfected over the last few decades is, however, more limiting than much anticipated. These static keyword searches are ignoring a vast swath of search potential that some surprising sources are tapping into the virtual search market.

According to Search Engine Watch:

Already, specific ecommerce visual search technologies abound: Amazon, Walmart, and ASOS are all in on the act. These companies’ apps turn a user’s smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool, searching for similar items based on whatever is in frame. This is just one use case, however, and the potential for visual search is much greater than just direct ecommerce transactions.


After a lot of trial and error, this technology is coming of age. We are on the cusp of accurate, real-time visual search, which will open a raft of new opportunities for marketers.

So, who is going to lead the charge in this virtual search frontier? Google, right? They own search today and will probably own it tomorrow, right? Not so fast. According to the piece, Google Lens is still in BETA testing and not as robust as the competition. If they follow their historical trajectory, they will be a leader here. But it’s too early to tell.

Instead, the virtual search market is currently led by some surprising players. Pinterest and Bing both have platforms that provide different levels of accuracy in accumulating things like your search history and things you take pictures of to help search. All these companies are still pretty new at virtual search, but we like the odds of Bing and Pinterest to stake a serious claim for the future.

Patrick Roland, October 12, 2017

Google Sitelinks Adopts Carousel Presentation

October 9, 2017

For its mobile search, Google is shifting its Sitelinks presentation to a carousel design, we learn in Search Engine Land’s brief write-up, “Google Officially Changes Sitelinks Design to Carousel Format.” (Think of a slide-projector carousel, not the kind with wooden horses.) Writer Barry Schwartz reveals:

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they are now rolling out a new design for Sitelinks. Sitelinks are additional links within the snippets of the search results where searchers can quickly jump to important and relevant pages on that site, as opposed to the main listing in the search result snippet. Google has been testing a carousel format for these Sitelinks for over a year and today has confirmed they are now rolling out the new carousel-based design for mobile search results.

Schwartz provides a screenshot of the feature in action and notes it shifts left or right at the user’s swipe. Perhaps the revised design will encourage more people to use the under-appreciated Sitelinks feature.

Cynthia Murrell, October 9, 2017



Yandex Adds Deep Neural Net Algorithm

September 18, 2017

One of Google’s biggest rivals, at least in Asia, is Russian search engine Yandex and in efforts to keep themselves on top of search, Yandex added a new algorithm and a few other new upgrades.  Neowin explains what the upgrades are in the article, “Yandex Rolls Out Korolev Neural Net Search Algorithm.”  Yandex named its upgraded deep neural network search algorithm Korolev and they also added Yandex. Toloka new mass-scale crowdsources platform that feeds search results into MatrixNext.

Korolev was designed to handle long-tail queries in two new ways its predecessor Palekh could not.  Korolev delves into a Web page’s entire content and also it can analyze documents a thousand times faster in real time.  It is also designed to learn the more it is used, so accuracy will improve the more Korolev is used.

Korolev had an impressive release and namesake:

The new Korolev algorithm was announced at a Yandex event at the Moscow Planetarium. Korolev is of course named after the Soviet rocket engineer, Sergei Korolev, who oversaw the Sputnik project, 60 years ago, and the mission that saw Yuri Gagarin get to space. Yandex teleconferenced with Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazansky who are currently representing Russia on the International Space Station.

Yandex is improving its search engine results and services to keep on top of the industry and technology.

Whitney Grace, September 18, 2015

How Search Moves Forward

September 8, 2017

Researchers at UT Austin are certainly into search engines, and are eager to build improved neural models. The piece “The Future of Search Engines” at Innovation Toronto examines two approaches, suggested by associate professor Matthew Lease, to create more effective information retrieval systems. The article begins by describing how search engines currently generate their results:

The outcome is the result of two powerful forces in the evolution of information retrieval: artificial intelligence — especially natural language processing — and crowdsourcing. Computer algorithms interpret the relationship between the words we type and the vast number of possible web pages based on the frequency of linguistic connections in the billions of texts on which the system has been trained. But that is not the only source of information. The semantic relationships get strengthened by professional annotators who hand-tune results — and the algorithms that generate them — for topics of importance, and by web searchers (us) who, in our clicks, tell the algorithms which connections are the best ones. Despite the incredible, world-changing success of this model, it has its flaws. Search engine results are often not as ‘smart’ as we’d like them to be, lacking a true understanding of language and human logic. Beyond that, they sometimes replicate and deepen the biases embedded in our searches, rather than bringing us new information or insight.

The first paper, Learning to Effectively Select Topics For Information Retrieval Test Collections (PDF), details a way to pluck and combine the best work of several annotators, professional and crowd-sourced alike, for each text. The Innovation Toronto article spends more time on the second paper,  Exploiting Domain Knowledge via Grouped Weight Sharing with Application to Text Categorization (PDF). The approach detailed here taps into existing resources like WordNet, a lexical database for the English language, and domain ontologies like the Unified Medical Language System. See the article for the team’s suggestions on using weight sharing to blend machine learning and human knowledge.

The researchers’ work was helped by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, three government organizations hoping for improvements in the quality of crowdsourced information. We’re reminded that, though web-search companies do perform their own research, it is necessarily focused on commercial applications and short-term solutions. The sort of public investment we see at work here can pave the way to more transformative, long-term developments, the article concludes.

Cynthia Murrell, September 8, 2017

Insight Engines Are the next Enterprise Upgrade

September 6, 2017

When one buzzword loses its, marketing teams do their best to create the next term to stay on top of their competition.  When it comes to search, the newest buzzword appears to be “insight engine.”  Mindbreeze is top-selling insight engine, according to their Web site and the recent blog post, “The Global Insight Engine Market: European Solution Scores Top Position.”  The post makes a poignant point that quickly retrieving answers to complicated problems is a necessity, but regular enterprise search engines cannot crawl unstructured information.

While insight engines are the next buzzword and also the next generation of enterprise search engines, but what exactly do their do?

This is where so-called insight engines come into play. They interpret unstructured and structured data using semantic analysis, and prepare it for further use. Search results are improved and returned in a structured format. Of course, insight engines don’t just process unstructured information, but also all other existing company information. The connection to the individual data sources is made through so-called connectors. Another feature of insight engines is that search queries can be formulated in natural language. The intelligent tools interpret the query and provide the relevant corresponding search results.

Gartner recently ranked the global insight engines market (they have their own market from other search engines?) and Mindbreeze ranks at the top of all the engines in the “challenger” category.  What makes this a headliner is that Mindbreeze competed against IBM and HP.  Mindbreeze then brags about their features: less than 90 days to integrate into a system, more out-of-the-box solutions for data connectors than other vendors, and Mindbreeze is more popular now since Google withdrew from the market.

Since this was published on Mindbreeze’s own blog, of course, it is a publicity piece.  In an objective test, how would Mindbreeze compete against Europe’s other engine, Elasticsearch?

Whitney Grace, September 6, 2017

Audioburst Tackling Search in an Increasing Audio World

September 5, 2017

With the advent of speech recognition technology our Smart world is slowly becoming more voice activated rather than text based. One company, Audioburst, is hoping to cash in on this trend with a new way to search focusing on audio. A recent TechCrunch article examines the need for such technology and how Audioburst is going about accomplishing the task by utilizing natural language processing and speech recognition technology to identify and organize audio data.

 It…doesn’t only match users’ search queries to those exact same words when spoken, either. For example, it knows that someone speaking about the “president” in a program about U.S. politics was referring to “Donald Trump,” even if they didn’t use his name. The audio content is then tagged and organized in a way that computers understand, making it searchable…This allows its search engine to not just point you to a program or show where a topic was discussed, but the specific segment within that show where that discussion took place. (If you choose, you can then listen to the full show, as the content is linked to the source.)

This technology will allow users to never need the physical phone or tablet to conduct searches. Audioburst is hoping to begin working with car manufacturers soon to bring truly hands-free search to consumers.

Catherine Lamsfuss, September 5, 2017

Google Is Rewiring Internet, Again

August 25, 2017

Google revolutionized the Internet by downloading all data in its server and offering fast search results. The search engine giant plans to do it again by introducing a series of network infrastructures to make search faster.

The Next Platform in an article titled How Google Wants to Rewire the Internet says:

Running a fast, efficient, hyperscale network for internal datacenters is not sufficient for a good user experience, and that is why Google has created a software defined networking stack to do routing over the public Internet, called Espresso.

The whole exercise of creating an extra layer or network infrastructure is to enhance user experience. As Google today generates 25% of the global Internet traffic, it is becoming difficult for the search engine giant to keep the results relevant.

Google used custom developed routers and switches for implementing this program. Hope that now people are able to find what they are looking for without getting lost in the maze of sponsored advertisements.

Vishal Ingole, August 25, 2017

Where Your Names Intersect

August 21, 2017

Google Maps might be the top navigational app in the world, but some apps like can help its users find intersections across the US with a choice of their names.

According to an article published by Forbes titled, “A New Search Engine Finds Quirky Intersections Across the U.S“, the author says: can search for intersections anywhere in the country by name. Plug in two names – say, yours and your spouse’s – and you’ll likely find at least a handful of crossroads somewhere between Hawaii and Florida.

The app in the true sense is just for the novelty. Or probably for some investigator who wants to find out how many intersections exist in the country with a particular name. Apart from a couple of fancy functions for a very very niche audience, the app offers no real utility. Moreover, only a handful of players has so far been able to monetize their navigational apps. Thus the long term viability is still in question.

Vishol Ingole, August 21, 2017

Google Amps Ads to New Annoying Levels

August 17, 2017

Today, Google is synonymous with search, as they’ve worked very hard to ensure. But search has changed, and not always for the good. One of Google’s hallmark principles at the beginning of their existence was to provide an unbiased search engine with any additions only being to enhance the user experience. Nowadays, though, it seems like Google looks like every other search engine, littered with Ads and flashing videos.

Not impressed with these changes, Wired recently called the search giant out on their recent addition of automatically-playing movie trailers, saying ‘enough is enough’.

Showing a few ads in the image search system isn’t a bad thing. But it shows just how much Google’s thinking has changed. Google’s not a scrappy startup anymore. It’s the world’s most valuable company, and its investors want results. And without much serious competition, the risk of customers bolting for another search engine is pretty low.

Wired is spot on, of course, but what if customers did start trickling out to other search engines that adhere to Google’s original principles and ideologies?

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 17, 2017

Chinese Sogou to Invade American Search

August 16, 2017

Having more than its fair share of the world’s population, China doesn’t do anything in small numbers. Search is no exception. It was recently announced that one of China’s most popular search engines has set its scope on the US.

According to TechNode,

Sogou, established in 2004, is the developer of China’s most popular Chinese input method service Sogou Pinin which takes more than 60% share in the mobile market. It’s also the operator of China’s top search engine, behind market leader Baidu, providing search service for Tencent’s WeChat social media platform as well as Microsoft’ Bing for English search in China. Company CEO Wang Xiaochuan disclosed in a recent speech that the firm is pivoting its focus to AI-driven search and navigation in the future.

The company has filed for a US IPO and is now just waiting for the all clear. What will this mean for current US search engines? With their increased focus on AI, Sogou is certainly poised to go head to head with the best the US has to offer, but will it be enough to win the hearts of Americans?

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 16, 2017

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