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Alternatives to the Comfort Food of Search

The way we search is changing. Whether you’ve noticed or not, more and more people are using content-specific alternatives to Google searching. Why? What does this mean to those of us trying to reach our audience?

Google is the comfort food of search

Image via Flickr @trekkyandy

We all use Google. I use it everyday. Josh Cole, an executive producer at Tippingpoint Labs, calls Google the “meat loaf, mashed potatoes and peas of search.” It’s hearty, straightforward and the traditional comfort food in the Internet search world. However, Google’s not the best search engine for finding a meat loaf recipe.

If I’m looking for a recipe, I go directly to Recipezaar or FoodNetwork or maybe even Yummly. I know that at all of these sites a search for “meatloaf” is going to return to me the most relevant search results possible. I’m only going to get meatloaf recipe results.

Now, let’s say I was looking for the title of an album by Meat Loaf, the singer. You know, the guy who sings “I’d Lie for You” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light“? I wouldn’t use Google. I’d go right to AllMusic.com and search for “Meat Loaf” and I’m guaranteed to get only one result—Meat Loaf, the singer.

This is how I search when I know exactly for which type of trusted result I’m looking. I call these kinds of sites (search engines for recipes, music, movies or events) Branded Content Aggregators.

Branded content aggregators are the future of search

Search results for Meat Loaf on IMDB.com

I define branded content aggregators as “human-edited websites that deliver results from trusted sources delivering a consistent quality and volume of valuable content.” So, Amazon.com could be considered a branded content aggregator for products. Or IMDB.com (the Internet Movie Database) is a branded content aggregator for all things movie- and television-related.

These content engines are amazingly powerful and deliver a vast amount of focused, reliable and smart results designed to deliver exactly the information I’m looking for without having to search through pages of “ten blue links” from Google.

So, branded content aggregators are tremendous sources of information, but they also provide brands and community members with wonderful opportunities to engage and participate in an active community by creating, curating and editing valuable content designed to make their experience better.

The Semantic Web is here—and you helped build it

Tim Berners-Lee, proponent of the Semantic Web

For years, people have been advocating the standardization of all Web data, searching for a way to build a machine language that supports a more intuitive and content-rich experience. Tim Berners-Lee calls this the Semantic Web.

Here’s the deal, Tim. The semantic web is already here. Every one of the branded content aggregators I visit understands the content, the lexicon and architecture of their specific niche better than any machine language ever could.

If I search for “pineapple” on AllRecipes.com, I get a list of the recipes that include pineapple as an ingredient. I don’t get the history of the pineapple. If I wanted that, I’d head to Wikipedia. Millions of individual contributors on millions of branded content aggregators have built semantic understandings of their specific niches to address their specific lexicon. That means the semantic web is already being built.

Harnessing the power of branded content aggregators in two search engines—is this the future of search?

So what if you don’t know where to find a branded content aggregator for your specific need? Where do you go? Who can introduce you to new, trusted sources?

I use two search engines that draw only from trusted sources to provide relevant results and contextualized navigation. I suggest you head over to DuckDuckGo.com and Kosmix.com and try searching for “meatloaf” (the dish) and “Meat Loaf” (the artist) with both search engines.

Each is an innovative search experience and a great use of branded content aggregation!

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