A Better Social Search Engine?

Does the world need another search engine? Delver.com thinks so.

The startup has launched an early, so-called alpha version if its social search engine that it said provides results ranked according to their social relevance to the user.

Company CEO Liad Agmon claimed the search results provided by social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook are “horrible” because they don’t effectively gather information based on users’ relationships to each other, a fundamental benefit of social networks.

“Try a search for anything in MySpace, like Madonna,” Agmon said. “What you get are results from arbitrary people that have nothing in common with you.”

And he said popular search engines like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) aren’t designed to effectively rank things such as profile pages on a social network.

By contrast, Delver said it gives users the ability to tap into the content and network of people whose opinion they value by adding them as Search Buddies. Delver prioritizes results from Search Buddies and their network as if
they were the users’ friends.

In addition, Delver offers several features for organizing and retaining the information found as a result of a search query. Users can choose the “keep it” option, which stores the selected links in appropriate categories for compiling lists or easier reference later on.

Agmon said Delver currently covers MySpace, Blogger, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube, Hi5, FriendFeed, Digg and Delicious. The company plans to add coverage of Facebook and a number of the top blogging platforms over the next few months.

Analyst Sara Radicati has not tried Delver yet but said any venture of this kind has to win over users already comfortable with other tools, such as Google, for search. “Even with regular Web search I think users often don’t know how to deal with all the results that are returned,” Radicati, CEO of The Radicati Group, told InternetNews.com. “You can get all kinds of fascinating information, but it can be overwhelming.”

For Delver to be successful, Radicati said it must attract early adopters comfortable using new tools and hope a viral marketing or strong word-of-mouth campaign can grow its user base. She thinks Delver could catch on if it can help the average user find more selective, relevant results.

Agmon said Delver is pursuing two tracks: to grow Delver.com as both a destination site for social search and a partner program that lets user-generated content sites integrate Delver’s search technology.

The service has been available as a private alpha for most of this year. Agmon said once his company announced yesterday it was going public, five social networks potentially interested in doing a deal contacted him because they want to improve their sites’ search capabilities.

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