Hotel Search Engines

February 12, 2012

Straight away one cannot narrow results by NOTting out bed bugs.

It is nice to see vertical search engines get some press. MakeUseOf presents a roundup of the “10 Best Hotel Search Engines to Get the Best Deals When You Travel.” The article makes its case for each choice, complete with screenshots. See the write up for details.

Writer Saikat Basu remarks:

These ten hotel search engines are at the forefront of the pack, and there are more of them. Most of the websites in the hotel search category are quite similar…offering a mix of hotel reservations, reviews, and great deals. . . . Having a few of these hotel search engines bookmarked helps you to cross-check the best deals and plan your trip with low overheads.

A good idea for the frequent traveler. Basu’s first choice is Google Hotel Finder. (Nice to see Google doing something right.) Next are Bing Travel;; Laterooms; Tripadvisor;; Hotels Combined; Hotwire; Venere; and Roomkey.

Odd, there’s not a single gnome or retired starship captain among them. Now for the antihistamine ointment.

Cynthia Murrell, February 12, 2012

Sponsored by

YaSabe Leads in US Hispanic Sector

October 1, 2011

It has long been known that relevance is why businesses exist and why they succeed. Marketwatch reported on a YaSabe, Inc.’s ability to find and fill a niche in their article “YaSabe Awarded Top Digital Media Innovation for U.S. Hispanics.”

Portada’s 5th Annual Hispanic Digital and Print Media Conference held in New York City honored YaSabe with this award because of their services providing local search and social media for U.S. Hispanics.

This company has only been around since 2010, but they already had a market to delve into upon their launch.

The article featured the importance of the relevance factor by providing the context of this business sector right up front in the lead paragraph:

This year’s recipients were honored in the wake of revelations from the 2010 U.S. Census that there are more than 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S. The digital media category is particularly meaningful because Hispanics are the fastest growing group of Internet users in the country.

YaSabe clearly has a keen eye on not only who to target, but how to target them. They also reach out to their client base with a people-powered search service called Ayudame.
As the U.S. Hispanic population invariably changes over time it will be exciting to see how YaSabe responds.

Megan Feil, October 1, 2011

Sponsored by

Foodchannel Vertical Search: More Stickiness?

September 23, 2011 has become one of the first consumer food sites to deploy a new semantic search bar technology.

Vertical Search Works announced the launch of VSW Search, a new search bar that publishers can use free of charge. The search bar will direct visitors to a publisher-branded results page rather than immediately being directed away from the publishers’ site. PR Newswire’s article, “Vertical Search Works Launches VSW Search™, a Semantic Search Platform for Web Publishers” details the release:

‘We believe VSW Search™ is the “killer app” for search,’ said Colin Jeavons, CEO of VSW.  ‘Publishers on the Web are thirsty for page views, and by delivering a semantic-powered search, we can help them better engage consumers by offering relevant, actionable search results.’

The technology understands a search term as a concept instead of as a keyword. By understanding the searcher’s intent with the semantic technology as well as keeping visitors on a publishers’ results page, I wonder how much a user’s search is going to be dictated by these results. It is an interesting approach to say the least.

For more information, visit

Andrea Hayden, September 23, 2011

Sponsored by

Is Local Search a Dead Cert Service? Nope.

September 14, 2011

Local search reviews play an increasingly important role for businesses. When is the last time you checked your phone book to find a good restaurant or see the best place to get a manicure? Exactly. You pick up your smartphone, tablet, or laptop and search for the best restaurant, store, or shop in your given area. Internet businesses like Yelp and CitySearch have sprung up in response to such local search needs. Yellow Pages or Yellow Book has even reinvented itself to keep up with the times.

Search Engine Journal goes over the basics of managing reviews for local business in, “The 3 Pillars of Local Search Reviews.”

“If you do one thing right in local, make it your reviews. Build on a strong and diverse platform that will allow you roll with the changes with ease because your strategy will be based on pillars.”

The author maintains that the sound strategy for managing business reviews is not to tailor your strategy for any particular service, but rather to stick to the basics, the three pillars.

  1. Diversify your reviews by providing customers links to several different review services.
  2. Obtain consistent reviews by mechanizing review requests and ensuring there is a steady stream at any given time.
  3. Provide reliable reviews by allowing any and all reviews, even non-favorable ones, to be seen and read. Sounds like good solid business advice, just updated a bit to keep with the times.

Our view is that local search is more likely to be subject to distortion, either intentional or unintentional than a general purpose Web search. Just our view. If you disagree, use the comments section.

Stephen E Arnold, September 14, 2011

Sponsored by, publishers of The New Landscape of Enterprise Search

Access Innovations Expands, Supports Medical Coding

August 17, 2011

We learned from one of our readers that Access Innovations that the company has expanded into an exciting new area—medical coding and analysis. In our opinion, the company is one of the leaders in taxonomy and controlled-term related systems and services delivering solutions that reduce errors and costs.

According to our reader:

Access Innovations, Inc., a leader in data integrity and content creation, has announced the Access Innovations Integrity Initiative (AI³), a suite of tools and services for quality assurance and validation of medical coding. Access Innovations Integrity Initiative is not just for physicians, hospitals, and their data service providers. It also includes tools that give auditors and insurers the information management tools they need to quickly identify areas of noncompliance or suspicious activity.

Margie Hlava, whom we interviewed a few weeks ago, told us:

We are dedicated to productivity and cost savings as a company. This new application of our long-standing tool set enables a radical departure from other less consistent and accurate tools. These are the tools used in scholarly publishing and other information activities for many years. Applying ANSI standard-compliant Data Harmony tools to the health arena, coupled with our support of automated coding accuracy, means cost savings as well as increased precision.

Why the expansion at a time when dozens of search and content processing companies are struggling to find shelter in the financial hail storms which buffet many vendors? According to Ms. Hlava,

Coding mistakes or improper coding adds to the cost of health care through out the service chain. AI³ can lower those administrative costs. An initial consultation leads to the development of an automated audit-trigger analysis, identifying inefficiencies and inaccuracies based on records, notes, or other supplied data. A rules-based approach allows for the analysis of dynamic data sets, unlike a purely statistical approach, which quickly becomes suboptimal as more data is entered. The system can be used to quickly and accurately validate medical coding or to locate errors in existing documentation. Our technology delivers cost savings without compromise.

For more information about Access Innovations’ services, navigate to Access Innovations Integrity Initiative. For more information about the firm’s landmark technology, navigate to this product catalog.

How do I know the company’s approach works? We used this system when I was working at the commercial database company producing ABI/INFORM, Business Dateline, and other high value, profitable databases.

Stephen E Arnold, August 1, 2011

Sponsored by

Searching for Local Prescription Prices

July 25, 2011

Search innovators keep surfacing. We learned about Local Drug Search recently. Local Drug Search is, according to the company, “the first Web site of its kind that empowers consumers to compare prices of prescription drugs at local pharmacies. We pull together information from the major U.S. pharmacies to find you the best prices for prescription drugs in your area.” When my mother was ill, I learned that prescription drug prices can vary widely depending on where you buy them- even for generic drugs. There have been several studies done over time demonstrating the massive price differences. You can give the service a spin at When I ran queries, the search system happily sniffed my location. Cool. Drug search and IP sniffing. Is this a match made in heaven?

Stephen E Arnold, July 25, 2011

Freebie unlike prescription drugs in Kentucky

Yellow Pages Trying to Find a Future

July 7, 2011

Search Engine Watch reports, “Search Secures Recognition as Local Business Info Provider.” The article examines information from studies performed by research companies Burke and eMarketer. Each has compiled data on usage for a variety of local-business-information resources. The Yellow Pages performs well when its paper and online ventures are combined, but separately each was roundly beaten by search engines.

Not surprisingly, add revenues for printed Yellow Pages are expected to dwindle into nothingness:

In the long haul, predicted figures decline to the point of near eclipse. By 2015, the predicted ad investment for print directories is just $5 billion. Meanwhile, search investments continue to rise, with the predicted figures for search ad spending increasing by more than 50 percent to $21.5 billion by 2015.

This must inevitably lead to the extinction of printed phone books. Good news if you’re a tree.

Still, how will the Yellow Pages fare in the long run? Depends on how nimble they are with their business model. The print sector is going to be under increasing cost pressure when print and ink are involved.

Cynthia Murrell, July 7, 2011

The addled goose is the author of The New Landscape of Enterprise Search

Mapping the New Landscape of Enterprise Search

May 23, 2011

What has happened to enterprise search? In a down economy, confusion among potential licensees has increased, based on the information I gathered for my forthcoming The Landscape of Enterprise Search, to be published by Pandia in June 2011. The price for the 186 page report is $20 US and 15 euros. Pandia and I decided that the information in the report should be available to those wrestling with enterprise search. With some “experts’ charging $500 and more for brief, pay to play studies, our approach is to provide substantive information at a very competitive price point.

In this completely new report, my team and I compress a complex subject into a manageable 150 pages of text. There are 30 pages of supplementary material, which you use as needed. The core of the report is an eyes-wide-open analysis of six key vendors: Autonomy, Endeca, Exalead, Google, Microsoft, and Vivisimo.

cover 5 10 C

You may recall that in the 2004 edition of the Enterprise Search Report, I covered about two dozen vendors. By the time I completed the third edition (the last one I wrote), the coverage had swelled to more than 28 vendors and to an unwieldy 600 plus pages of text.

In this new Landscape report, the publisher, my team, and I focused on the companies most often included in procurement reviews. With more than 200 vendors offering enterprise search solutions, there are 194 vendors who could argue that their system is better, faster, and cheaper than the vendors’ systems discussed in Landscape. That may be true, but to include a large number of vendors makes for another unwieldy report. I know from conversations with people who call me asking about another “encyclopedia of search” that most people want two or three profiles of search vendors. We maintain profiles for about 50 systems, and we track about 300 vendors in our in house Overflight system.

My team and I have tried to make clear the key points about the age and technical aspects of each vendor’s search solution. I am also focused on explaining what systems can and cannot do. If you want information that will strike you as new and different, you will want to get a copy of my new Landscape report.

Alchemist layers 02

Are you lost in the alchemist’s laboratory? This is a place where unscientific and fiddling take precedence over facts. Little wonder when “experts” explain enterprise search, there is no “lead into gold” moment. There is a mess. The New Landscape of Search helps you avoid the alchemists’ approach. Facts help reduce the risk in procuring an enterprise search solution.

Read more

Google and Search

May 11, 2011

Over the last five days, I have been immersed in conversations about Google and its public Web search system. I am not able to disclose the people with whom I have spoken. However, I want to isolate the issues that surfaced and offer some observations about the role of traditional Web sites. I want to capture the thoughts that surfaced after I thought about what I learned in my face to face and telephone conversations. In fact, one of the participants in this conversation directed my attention to this post, “Google Panda=Disaster.” I don’t think the problem is Panda. I think a more fundamental change has taken place and Google’s methods are just out of sync with the post shift environment. But hope is not lost. At the end of this write up, I provide a way for you to learn about a different approach. Sales pitch? Sure but a gentle one.

Relevance versus Selling Advertising

The main thrust of the conversations was that Google’s Web search is degrading. I have not experienced this problem, but the three groups with whom I spoke have. Each had different data to show that Google’s method of handling their publicly accessible Web site has changed.

First, one vendor reported that traffic to the firm’s Web site had dropped from 2,000 uniques per month to 100. The Web site is informational. There is a widget that displays headlines from the firm’s Web log. The code is clean and the site is not complex.

Second, another vendor reported that content from the firm’s news page was appearing on competitors’ Web sites. More troubling, the content was appearing high in a Google results list. However, the creator of the content found that the stories from the originating Web site were buried deep in the Google results list. The point is that others were recycling original content and receiving a higher ranking than the source of the original content.


Traditional Web advertising depicted brilliantly by Ken Rockwell. See his work at

Third, the third company found that its core business was no longer appearing in a Google results list for a query about the type of service the firm offered. However, the company was turning up in an unrelated or, at best, secondary results list.

I had no answer to the question each firm asked me, “What’s going on?”

Through various contacts, I pieced together a picture that suggests Google itself may not know what is happening. One source indicated that the core search team responsible for the PageRank output is doing its work much as it has for the last 12 years. Googlers responsible for selling advertising were not sure what changes were going on in the core search team’s algorithm tweaks. Not surprisingly, most people are scrutinizing search results, fiddling with metatags and other aspects of a Web site, and then checking to see what happened. The approach is time consuming and, in my opinion, very much like the person who plugs a token into a slot machine and hits the jack pot. There is great excitement at the payoff, but the process is not likely to work on the next go round.

Net net: I think there is a communications filter (intentional or unintentional) between the group at Google working to improve relevance and the sales professionals at Google who need to sell advertising. On one hand, this is probably healthy because many organizations put a wall between certain company functions. On the other hand, if Adwords and Adsense are linked to traffic and that traffic is highly variable, some advertisers may look to other alternatives. Facebook’s alleged 30 percent share of the banner advertising market may grow if the efficacy of Google’s advertising programs drops.

Read more

Jewish News Archive: Another Hot Curated Vertical Content Source

May 9, 2011

Anne Mintz, the star of the Forbes’ organization’s information center, shifted direction a while back. She dropped into stealth mode, alerting me to her activities via brief emails. I am delighted to be able to announce her Jewish News Archive project.

The remarkable collection of JTA news reports from 1923 to the present is now available for free at .  Formerly the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, now JTA: The Global News Service of the Jewish People, the organization is a not-for-profit media company similar to the Associated Press. Ms. Mintz, one of the world’s leading experts in business information, told me:

Writing the first draft of Jewish history. The archive of original reporting from around the world documents the Jewish experience of the 20th century, much of it not written about in the mainstream media.

I was delighted with the depth of this new service. She said:

There are more than 7,000 contemporaneous articles reported from Europe between 1937-1945 that document the Holocaust on a daily basis, at least that many documenting the experience of Russian Jews throughout entire reign of Communism, coverage of life in then-Palestine before the new state was inaugurated in 1948, and much more.

You can explore this exceptional resource at

If you are one of the video addicts who read Beyond Search, you can get additional information from a nifty YouTube video.

Ms. Mintz–who vies with Marydee Ojala, Barbara Quint, and Ulla de Stricker for the title of best business information expert in the world—told me after I asked about her involvement:

Yes, I worked on the project for four months helping prepare the site for launch on May 9, 2011. The content speaks for itself. One interesting aspect of my role was to help surface the articles on news events that didn’t mention the overall subject, such as the Holocaust and the Six Day War, which of course weren’t referred to as such in the original coverage.  Another is making sure that people who search for Sabbath also get stories about Shabbat and Shabbas.

The shift from running a commercial organization’s information operation to developing curated vertical information services is one that is interesting to me. Most of the curated sites are little more than plays for revenue from online advertising services. Ms. Mintz’s work delivers quality without the search engine optimization baloney. This is a victory for curated content. Ms. Mintz receives a virtual laurel wreath from the team in Harrod’s Creek.

Three quacks for this service. What’s next?

Stephen E Arnold, May 9, 2011


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