Web search engines go niche

Generic searches on the Web are giving way to more specialized forms, says Norwegian search technology company Fast.

SINGAPORE--Web search is becoming a more targeted activity, says a senior executive of Norwegian company Fast Search & Transfer.

Zia Zaman, Fast's executive vice president of global marketing, told ZDNet Asia in an interview that there is a growing trend of "targeted" search engines.

"We're seeing more and more 'honeypot sites' popping up--sites which search and collect targeted content, and traffic 'sticks' to them because what they do work for people," said Zaman.

SPH Search, the joint venture between Singapore Press Holdings and Norwegian media company Schibsted, has licensed search technology from Fast to create a local Web index for Singapore-specific content.

According to Zaman, SPH Search will be the first country-focused search engine in the Asia region.

Besides search engines that serve a particular country, there is also a trend toward vertical industry search, Zaman said.

Besides search engines that serve a particular country, there is also a trend toward vertical industry search where, in the case of the pharmaceutical industry, researchers may prize a document's authority--determined by votes or its popularity--over other search criteria such as a document's recency.

It is this "tunable" search algorithm that is driving companies to look for more customizable search technology for their sites, rather than the generic searches that one currently performs over the Web, said Zaman.

Fast sees 20 percent to 25 percent of its revenue coming from Asia, and counts Petronas in Malaysia and Fuji Xerox in Singapore amongst its clients.

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