SearchCloud, a new search engine that launched on July 17, has a new take on search refinement that it hopes will make it a useful alternative to the likes of Yahoo and Google. Instead of simply entering multiple keywords, users can rank how important each term is to the search. Each term is placed in a “search cloud”, where its weight is indicated by the size of the font.
For example, you could enter the words “TechCrunch” and “Apple” with TechCrunch more strongly weighted to (hopefully) get articles about Apple on our site. To further refine the search, you could enter terms like “iphone” and “app store” with a lesser weighting, which would help stories on those topics rise to the top, without excluding stories that don’t mention them.
It’s a great concept, but unfortunately SearchCloud’s execution is poor. Using the above example, not one search result on the front page came from TechCrunch. You also can’t adjust the weight of each term directly from the results page – you need to create a new search if you want to adjust the importance of a term.
SearchCloud is relying on Yahoo’s search results,
but it’s unclear if and they’re using the new BOSS platform (which lets them reorder search results) instead of the normal API (which doesn’t) – an important differences that separates useful search engines from gimmicky new interfaces. BOSS allows developers to manipulate Yahoo’s search in ways that have previously been impossible, and will likely spawn a number of engines that will truly help today’s search evolve (though most attempts will likely be failures).
SearchCloud has a good idea with weighted keywords – if it can effectively harness BOSS and get some meaningful results then it may be on to something. For the time being though, it’s just a good idea that doesn’t work very well.