Making Communications Buzz

Monday, June 12, 2006

Google vs. Clusty/Vivisimo: Search Done Often vs. Search Done Right

Google is approaching a 60% share of all online search, according to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch (citing Hitwise).

As I blogged a few weeks ago (Is Google the Only Game in Town for Search?), Google's dominance is something that can't be ignored. But what makes Google so great?

At an Entrepreneur's Growth Conference sponsored by the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center last week, Vivisimo CEO Raul Valdes-Perez spoke to attendees about his search engine company's "search done right" strategy, which aims to exploit a major shortcoming of the Google interface.

A key problem with search results, as Valdes-Perez noted, is limited screen space. A Google results page offers 10 items, plus sponsored links.

How many of these are really what we are looking for? Maybe two or three? Maybe none? How do you find out? You almost always have to click on the links themselves to find out. The text clippings under the headings are rarely all that enlightening.

So you click on a link, wait for a page to load, scan the site... Not what you want? Back to the results page to try again. And so on, ad nauseum. It's far from ideal!

The Vivisimo interface offers a simple but potentially huge improvement: results are listed in categories. The categories appear as folders on the left side of the page. Click on a folder to see results that fall under only that category. Check it out. Vivisimo calls its engine Clusty. There's also a search window on the Vivisimo site itself.

You can 'Clusty' the Web, News, Images, Blogs. The Clusty-powered blog search combines results from several different blog search engines. If you have used any of the blog search sites, you know there is massive room for improvement in this area.

You can also customize Clusty search. This is a topic for a future post.

The more I think about it, the more the superiority of the Clusty results page over the Google results page seems apparent. Why would you want to waste time digging through a mash of (relatively) unorganized search results when you can eliminate whole categories of results in an instant?

The name "Google" sounds far better than "Clusty". Critics say the latter sounds too much like "crusty", "klutzy", the name of a goofy little train engine, etc., etc., as Valdez-Perez acknowledged. But, as far as search results go, who cares about the name? It's not all about branding, is it?

Of course, there's the more serious question of how search engines determine a page's ranking. Are Google's methods far superior to the competition?

It's a question worth considering.

Here's a post from Search Engine Watch ('Search: Thy Name Is Google') that notes "increasing dissatisfaction with the quality of search results" even as Google increases market share.

Vivisimo has focussed much of its marketing and development on enterprise search, creating custom search solutions for large businesses and other organizations like United Press International, RAND Corporation and the US Government (

There are some sponsored listings on their results pages, but nothing to the extent of Google AdWords or Yahoo! Sponsored Search.

I'm very interested to see where Clusty/Vivisimo goes from here. Definitely one to watch. Try Clusty and let me know what you think!


  • Oh, if you love Clusty, I dare you to download their toolbar and try to use them exclusively for a week. The only time the product is helpful is when a word has multiple meanings. (But in those cases, it is very good.)

    For example, if I typed in "Eclipse," I might be referring to a sun/moon occurance, or a Mitsubishi car, or a GCC tool. Clusty does an excellent job with that kind of search. But once you have a few keywords (and more and more people are using three and four keywords in their searches to get exactly what they want), Google is the place to be. Really.


    By Blogger LunaMetrics Blog, at 5:05 PM  

  • Robbin -
    I love it! The "Eclipse" example was just the sort I was going to cite, "Mercury" actually...

    So it's not as simple as I imagined! Always good to find out from someone who knows!

    I see in Avinash Kaushik's web analytics blog that your LunaMetrics blog ranked number 7 in his list of Top Ranked Web Analytics Blogs.


    By Blogger Mark McLaren, at 11:46 AM  

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