What would it take for new search engines to succeed?

Neeva and You.com are trying to ignore the user segments that Google has overlooked, and with changing user preferences and more government control, there’s a possibility.

Google has been the most used search engine in the United States for more than half of its 22-year history. During that time, his perception of the sudden and imminent Silicon Valley process centered on the Internet gatekeeper, with algorithms that had significant operational implications and built a reputation for expanding his business into multiple industries. to provide a better user experience.

Recently, strict regulation of their business practices has prompted government agencies to suppress the alleged inadequacy, and some users have shown a slight shift towards more privacy-focused searches. Resistance is also coming from other search engines, such as DuckDuckGo and Ecosia, who are very critical of how Google provides search engine alternatives to Android users in the EU.

The wave of setbacks towards the market leader can create the right conditions for alternative search engines to defend themselves. Neeva was founded in June by former Google Advertising chief Sridhar Ramaswamy, and You.com was announced this month by former Salesforce scientist Richard Socher. While acquiring a significant portion of Google’s search share may be part of your overall goal and what many marketers would like to see, success as a new search engine depends on many factors and can somehow happen. in the other.

Regulators want more competition in research

In recent years, Google has been increasingly criticized for alleged competitive activity in the United States and abroad. In 2018, he was fined 4.3 billion euros (about 5 billion dollars), the largest antitrust fine ever imposed by the European Commission (EC), and 2.4 billion euros (2.7 billion euros). EUR). Dollars). Billions) that he has imposed on Google. a year earlier because they prefer their own content in the search results.

Last year, 48 attorneys general participated in an antitrust investigation into a company. At the federal level, the Justice Department filed an antitrust suit against Google in October, alleging it was using contracts and its market power to neutralize competitors.

Google responds to calls for solutions when found guilty of competing tactics. A report by the Antitrust Judicial Subcommittee recommends a number of possible solutions, including “structural separation” to restore competition, but Google is confident and could take the fight to court.

In that case, the first decision can take up to two years and the company can appeal again. With the height of control over the company’s dominance, potential competitors gradually emerged from the undergrowth, trying to differentiate themselves from the market leader.

Can anyone really compete with Google?

Since Google exists today, it is necessary to create a search engine that you can compete with meaningfully: “[Build] a product that delivers relevant, useful, fast, and cognitively low results, at least as much as Google itself.” that at least ten to hundreds of millions of people quickly trust and prefer Google, ”, CEO, and Co-Founder of SparkToro, adding that the second half is a more realistic opportunity thanks to the “ continuous approach. ” from the “beloved startup” and the “evil empire” over the past 8 years.

“To be honest, I don’t see how this is going to happen,” Eric Enge, president of Perficient, told Search Engine Land. “The quality of the search results has a lot to do with the data you can get and [the search engine] can use more data. I can’t see how anyone can get Google in this regard.

Fishkin shared a similar sentiment: “ Realistically, I don’t think anyone can build a search engine that matches Google’s quality without years of data on what people searched, clicked, and found valuable (around things like reflections or SERPs). .)), change your searches, select result 8 instead of n. 1, etc.) This is Google’s real secret ingredient: the resource that no one can touch.

Conquering Google doesn’t have to be the goal

“Instead of building a search engine that Google can control, the goal may be to build a solid base of users interested in building their own ‘corner of the internet,” said Enge.

DuckDuckGo uses a similar strategy to differentiate itself from others and to attract privacy-conscious users. In November 2020, the number of searches that DuckDuckGo processes per month rose to a record high of almost 2.4 billion. However, it still accounts for only 2.3% of the US search market share, compared to Google’s 87.7%.

Neeva’s subscription service, which reportedly costs less than $ 10 a month, aims to provide a personalized experience, but without ads. And you don’t have to overcome so many technological barriers when using existing content and data sources, including search results from Bing, Apple Maps, and weather.com. This could help Neeva save the development budget that comes out of the gate, and if it manages to attract enough subscribers, the company expects a lower monthly fee, making it a more attractive alternative for new users.

The exact details have not yet been released, but the You.com website has several links to help users make their online purchasing decisions. The company’s early access survey also raises a number of questions about e-commerce.

What success can mean for new search engines

The long-term profitability of potential Google or Amazon competitors depends in part on their ability to attract the first audience, which is difficult to predict at this point, as Neeva or You.com have more details or insights about the release date. announce.

“No, in my opinion,” Fishkin replied when asked whether he thought Neeva or You.com’s specific business models and features were sufficient to attract new users during the launch period. “If I were in their shoes, I would not reveal my ‘secret’ way of competing with technology monopolies after launch. So I hope they have more prospects.

Part of the “secret sauce” comes from identifying users with needs that Google doesn’t currently offer. “These users are likely to still use Google a lot, but they can use Neeva or You.com for specific scenarios,” said Enge. “If these companies are able to maintain this level of concentration, they have a chance of success.”

If these companies traditionally hire venture capital, success may sound more famous: “A unicorn will be returned with a shareholder value of more than $ 1 billion,” said Fishkin, “of course it can be done by these people.” ‘compete effectively in the long run.

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