A Peek At The Future Of Search?

by Jason Falls |

In July, I told you about a new experiment in search that was refreshing. Zakta is a new search engine — I know, I know. Who in their right mind would try and compete with Google, Bing, Yahoo and so on? — but one that has some legs. I mentioned it in one of my Pitch Log Mashups but with their recent full launch, I revisited them and want to make sure you understand the implications of what they’re doing.

Zakta allows you to do two things with your search results that other engines do not: 1) Edit and cull your results to be more reflective of what you’re really searching for and 2) Share those results with other users. There are a bunch of other interesting facets to the tool, but these are significant for a couple of reasons.

  1. If you find yourself searching for similar terms over and over again, you can save and simplify your searches.
  2. Sharing your searches with others, and following the searches of those on the network you trust is, at least theoretically, a powerful feature.

Imagine needing to know something about the New York Jets. You know Gary Vaynerchuk is perhaps the biggest Jets fan on the planet. If he were a connection on Zakta and had saved a search about the New York Jets (you know he would), wouldn’t you trust his editing of the search results better than keyword-based or even semantic-powered search results of some computer? I would.

The reason this is significant for businesses is that, if (and it’s a big if … more in a moment) Zakta takes off and becomes a relevant player in the search business, your company could become a go-to resource for relevant search results in your industry. By building trust with an online audience, providing relevant links, information and resources, you could be looked to as the thought leader or authority for your industry or location. If you then share your curated search results for the topics people trust you for, you’ve provided them with additional value and reason to trust you.

The key is not abusing that trust, of course.

Here’s where I think Zakta has challenges, and it is a fundamental point I hope many start-up types are paying attention to:

The biggest challenge you face with a new product is if the success of it depends on changing people’s behavior.

Zakta will have to prove, through relevancy, immediacy and usefulness, that changing people’s behavior from starting at Google, Yahoo, Bing or some other engine, is worth the switch. Will they do it? I’m cautiously optimistic.

I don’t know that my friend’s curated search results are the deal-breaker for me. Bing has changed my habits a bit, but only if I notice the first few Google results to giving me what I want. I still start with Google. Zakta’s connection tool only yielded one friend on their network for me. Granted, Pete Blackshaw‘s search results are worth looking at. Dude is smart. But without a wider net, Zakta becomes less appealing.

Still, I’m fascinated at the possibilities. Sundar Kadayam, Zakta’s CEO, is the former founder and CTO at Intelliseek and was also with Nielsen Buzzmetrics. He knows how to build successful web-based businesses. There’s a ton of relevance and power behind the Zakta idea. I just wonder how the masses will come. If they do, it has game-changing possibilities. If they don’t, they still may have enough technology and juice to get sold to someone big with big money.

Either way, it’s a tool worth looking at and spending some time with. My friend’s search results, culled and curated for my edification, are useful. If we all did it, we’d have something, now wouldn’t we?

What’s your take? What search feature would change your behavior? Is someone you know editing search results for a certain topic relevant? Why? Why not? The comments are yours.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).