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Shop and Become.com

Another shopping search engine is joining the fray in an effort to provide searchers with more relevant search queries.

Become.com is the brainchild of Michael Yang and Yeogirl Yun, the same pair that founded online comparison shopping pioneer mySimon and later sold it to CNET Networks.

"After MySimon was acquired by CNET in early 2000 for about $700 million, I took a little time off , and a little while ago I was looking for a new treadmill to exercise at home," Yang told internetnews.com. "I used Google and the results I got weren't very good."

Yang realized there were two components to online shopping: price comparison and product research. Other sites like shopping.com, BizRate, and Google's Froogle, only offer comparative pricing and limited (if any) non-professional research and reviews, Yang said.

Yang and Yun's approach in Become.com is to use a Web crawler they developed to crawl sites instead of just accepting merchant data feeds.

"Shopping.com and others like it are driven off of merchant data feeds; they do not have the crawler-based technology that Become.com has and are missing out on a lot of content," Yang said.

The difference between Google's crawler and Become.com's crawler, according to Yang, is all about context.

"The limitation of the current [Google] approach is that there is no context of the user intent," Yang explained. "Google doesn't know you're looking for a professional review."

Currently in beta, Become.com boasts 2.2 billion pages and a new way to rank them, which Yang and Yun call Affinity Index Ranking (AIR). They said AIR is a next-generation ranking algorithm that delivers greater contextual connectivity and vertical relevance.

AIR locates reputable review and research sources as a basis for finding relevant results. Rather than only looking at what links to a site (link analysis), Become.com's search also looks at what links out of a site to help determine its relevance for a particular query.

Become.com makes use of Google's AdSense program, which delivers targeted ads based on the Become.com search results.

According to Yang, by the middle of the year, the site will enter its next phase, which will integrate comparison shopping with the search results. At that point, the idea is to generate some form of revenue per click from the merchants.

Shoppers can register to use the Become.com beta on the site.