Users target topic specific search engines

Time-wasting internet searches may soon become a thing of the past as many software houses concentrating their efforts on a new breed of topic specific search engine designed to deliver more relevant results.

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By  Patrick Phelvin Published  September 8, 2003

Time-wasting internet searches may soon become a thing of the past as many software houses concentrating their efforts on a new breed of topic specific search engine. Designed to deliver more relevant results and save users time, new engines search several sites at once and specify search parameters.

Portals such as Expedia.com, which searches travel sites, and iHound.com, have already unveiled topic specific search engines that are designed to work alongside traditional meta search engines like Google.

Furthermore, Ben Andersen, software president of TeraStorm, which launched iHound.com last month, says the one-click-to-many system has already proved popular with users.

“iHound helps solve one of the most basic and intrinsic internet functions, which also happens to be one of the most frustrating and time wasting activities; searching for and finding relevant information,” he says.

“A normal search with iHound is like visiting 16 sites, and searching them simultaneously. The amount of time saved is incredible. When users began testing iHound, the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive,” he adds.

Users of iHound select a category topic they are interested in, such as General Shopping. The user can then select up to sixteen different shopping sources to search, including meta-search shopping sites.

“By using iHound they were able to be more productive than they were before. Whether at home or at the office, this is what we are striving for – to search the internet faster and more efficiently than before,” says Andersen.

While iHound provides business and home users with a more general search engine, firms such as FusionBot have developed a number of subject-specific portals such as lawperiscope.com. The company, founded in 1998, has 20,000 paying subscribers.

The growing trend in such search engines may also prove to be good news for savvy companies that want to make a name for themselves on the web, with pay-per-listing schemes proving effective at finding customers.

John Sortino, vice-president of marketing for Chicago-based Logika Corp, which develops search engines and related tools, says: “Search engine optimisation is a far more powerful website marketing tool than banner advertising ever was.”

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