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Factery Aims to Go Beyond URLs in Search Results

Is the point of a search to get a page of links that leads to more searching, or is it to get specific content in the form an answer you can trust?

Startup Factery Labs strongly believes it's the latter. The company's FactEngine extracts what it says is the most relevant content from real-time feeds and Web content to provide simple, short answers to user queries.

Paul Pedersen, founder and president of Factery Labs, said traditional search engines are good at finding static content like a public figure's biography. Conversely, he said Factery's technology is more in tune with the real-time Web and content on social networks like Twitter.

"You see recommended URLs all over the place," Pedersen told InternetNews.com. "But communities are taking over a lot of the URL recommendation game with things like short URLs and tagged pages." He notes that search engines don't typically rank a lot of these recommendations because the site addresses are hidden by short URL programs like bit.ly.

"The short URLs are opaque. I've seen some statistics that as much as 60 percent of the Twitter links are unique," he said. "There's a lot of interesting long-tail content that isn't showing up in search engine results."

Pedersen said FactRank actually looks at things like grammatical structure, frequency of posts, rankings and more to evaluate content. One early developer partner, sobees, has implemented Factery's API to extract factual information from the real-time Twitter stream of tweets.

"With Factery's API we're able to enrich our real time Twitter search," said François Bochatay, CEO of sobees, in a statement. "And our users are able to easily get facts and a ranking of those facts from their friends' Twitter feeds. It's more immediate and it's frankly, more interesting."

Pedersen said he hopes other developers will use Factery's free API code to bring out services for other social networks like Facebook and other Web sources. Factery already uses Yahoo's BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service) to search the broader Web.

"That certainly has value, to get historical and reference content, but we're offering something different," Pedersen said.

You can test drive Factery at the Web site and see two columns of results: "Fresh Facts from Twitter Recommendations" and "All Facts From Yahoo" for comparison.

In a test Monday for "Golden State Warriors," the Factery side showed numerous extracts of content related to a trade the pro basketball team had just made. The Yahoo side was headed by summaries and links and to the team's Wikipedia entry and other generic information on the team, with some news stories farther down the page.

A search on Google shows some news results, but mostly links to the NBA and the Warriors' home page among the top results, though you can also click on News to get specific news-related stories.

But Factery's certainly not along in looking to tap the real-time Web. Both Google and Microsoft's Bing recently announced deals with Twitter to offer content from users' tweets, designed to give their search results an injection of real-time results.