Site search options and the opportunity

Eventually I’m going to talk more in-depth about competition, but tonight I just wanted to dump some quick tidbits I’ve been discovering as I explore this general space a bit more.

I’ve been intentionally adding new blogs and forums to the search system VERY slowly (I’ll try to explain the reasons behind my ‘slow to add’ approach in a future post)…anyway, to date I’ve only added about 35 different blogs (and their related comments) to the system.

The way I’m adding blogs at the moment is either by request (ie. someone creates a account and uses the tool there to request that their blog is added to or by going out on my own and identifying a blog that I would like to be able to search myself (I add it, then I inform the blog owner, and if I’m lucky they like it and decide to have it power their search feature).

So anyway of the 35 in the system already, 6 have actually gone through the process of having the current version of actually power their search (a handful of others have actually verbally agreed to let power their search, but haven’t actually plugged it into their blog templates yet – I gotta get more aggressive/pestering about that I guess).

Forgetting for a moment that at least a handful will (likely) switch over to before long, here’s how the 29 that are not powered by yet are currently offering up search to their users:

  • 11 have no search option available to their readers at all
  • 7 have the default tumblr search built into their template.
  • 7 use their custom blog platform search (ie. wordpress, posterous, and blogger each offer up a search plugin/feature)
  • 2 use the custom google search system.
  • 2 use the lijit search widget (one of which was a big investor in lijit throughout all their rounds of fudning - so he’s unlikely to switch away; though I will continue to try to convert him now that lijit was acquired [and pivoted away from search])

So I know it’s an insanely small sample, but I still find this very interesting and exciting as it relates to the opportunity.

First, the fact that almost 40% offer up no search feature at all is just baffling to me.

I wonder if it’s because they just didn’t like the search options/quality available, if it was just too hard to figure out how to include, or it there is some other reason for not offering up search?

In any case, I believe site search has shown to have many great benifits and adding the ability to search the entire conversation via (along with the analytics stuff we already offer) is hopefully a no-brainer decision for most of these blogs to want to install

Second, the 24% that left the default tumblr search on are also baffling to me, but I love them because this is a case where I can simply have them do searches on vs. searches on their tumblelog

Since Tumblr only searches against the tags they’ve tagged their posts with (and most people don’t do good tagging) I’m confident that 99% of the time results in this comparison completely 'wow’ them.

Again, I hope that translates into a pretty easy decision for the blog owner.

So already, that’s over 60% that *should* be fairly easy conversions to using

(assuming I can get the blog owners to notice, want to have a quality search option for their readers, and make it EASY for them to get it running – BIG assumptions I know).

The remaining groups are a bit more interesting situations to try and work into.

On first glance, the results they offer aren’t that different to what the blog search only feature of offers up (they actually are slightly different, but probably not enough so to 'wow’ people with a comparison search like in the Tumblr situations).

So they require talking a bit more about the unique value that brings to the table (ie. the concept of your whole conversation search vs. just website content search).

I still think I have a VERY compelling case to make against each of these (and this is part of what I mentioned I will try to lay out later in a post or two about competition)…but it’s definitely a harder 'sale’ than the first two groups.

Luckily the 1st two groups are appearing to be a massive amount of the initial market, and I’m pretty excited to be getting into position to start helping them provide quality search to their readers!

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at

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