Aussie blog search gets closer

Melbourne-based tech startup Feedcorp is one step closer to the launch of its Australian search engine, with a test version of the site released to selected parties this week.Feedcorp has for some time been plotting an Australian answer -- dubbed "gnoos" -- to international services like Technorati and Google's Blog Search.

Melbourne-based tech startup Feedcorp is one step closer to the launch of its Australian search engine, with a test version of the site released to selected parties this week.

Feedcorp has for some time been plotting an Australian answer -- dubbed "gnoos" -- to international services like Technorati and Google's Blog Search. The search engine indexes blogs as well as traditional online news sources.

Although a launch had initially been planned for late February, development has taken longer than expected.

Blogs are personal or corporate Web sites with sequential entries that are typically written in an informal style. They normally utilise the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) format also used by more traditional news sites such as ZDNet Australia to syndicate their content across the Web.

the gnoos search engine
Click to enlarge

The popularity of blogs has exploded worldwide as the Internet-using public has standardised on the format for personal -- and increasingly professional -- online publishing.

Barren's company this week starting looking for enthusiastic parties to test the fledgling search engine before it makes its live debut.

"My engineering team told me we are having a beta period for gnoos.com.au mid this week," Feedcorp's founder Ben Barren wrote on his own blog.

The intention of such a testing period is to iron out bugs in the search engine's code before it goes live to the public.

Barren told ZDNet Australia via e-mail today that he didn't have an exact breakdown of how much Australian content gnoos indexed, but he said the search engine was currently "tracking over 25,000 active Web sites, a number which is growing 10 percent plus a week, equalling over one million plus posts that are in the gnoos index".

Barren admitted this number was "still very small" compared with the indexes maintained by the likes of Google and Technorati, but said gnoos' Australian focus would provide differentiation.

"When it comes to vertical search, quality beats quantity -- gnoos focuses on providing Australians with the latest being said locally, and globally on topics of interest in the last day to week," he said.

"You just don't get a sense of the real conversation that is happening in the local and global blogosphere when searching through Google Australia, Sensis, or Yahoo7," Barren claimed.

The Feedcorp founder said from his company's estimates, gnoos was indexing more active Australian blogs than any other player, "usually by quite a large factor".

"If we don't have someone's blog we want it," he said. "Either by crawling it ourselves or getting them to add it through our site."

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