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Sortfix tries a different approach to improving search – suggesting better search terms

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It’s interesting that TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington kicked off a debate today about the current problems with search. Because it’s clear that while few players feel able to take on the might of Google, there remaina a few startups out there trying to attack the problem from different angles.

One of them is Israeli startup SortFix, who I met on a recent trip to Tel Aviv in Israel (more on that soon).

Previously, SortFix tried concentrating its search functionality directly through its website and through its iPad app. But now SortFix has created a FireFox extension for Google which makes use of SortFix’s algorithms to generate suggested words to improve your search. It’s still in beta but you can try it here.

The effect is like having a smarter person sitting over your shoulder saying “hey, if you add this extra word to the search terms you may get what you want”. Small plus and minus buttons (when hovered over with the mouse) help you tweak the terms.

The FireFox extension also has a feature their site or iPad app doesn’t have – such as the ability to specifically exclude suggested words from a search query – this is something a simple Google search actually can’t do.

These suggestions can be added in or taken away to improve the results. But SortFix isn’t playing around with Google’s results. Instead it is giving the user more control over deciding which ‘power words’ are relevant and whether to use them or not. The extension also works with Google Instant as well as Google News, Videos, Books, Blogs, Realtime and e-commerce.

IE and Chrome versions are coming soon and there are also plans to expand the add-on to work with Bing and Amazon.

SortFix was co-founded in March 2009 by CEO Amir Lavi and CTO Yohay Barsky – who may well be sitting on a neat idea which search engines would do well to take note of.

  • Publicly Private Outfitters

    Without a doubt, this is a great start-up. Based on the franework’s close ties to Google, it might be a feature the tech-giant will implement natively.

  • Lesserson

    Why I should take this extra effort. Just because Google wants to make more money by allowing content farms? I better switch to Bing.

    • Kevin

      Yep you better switch to Bing who does the exact same thing but shows less relevant results.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gosselin-Mathieu/691900588 Gosselin Mathieu

    this is our take on the future of search. We think the problem is not just the relevance of the search but the presentation of the data. Since the human brain process images much faster than text it makes sense to have the search displayed visually. It is much faster and easier to filter the results this way.
    Also we remove the need for click and browsing and that’s why we call can reasonably call it the fastest search engine ever made :
    http://www.psykomatic.com
    If you have any suggestions on how to improve it please do so!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gosselin-Mathieu/691900588 Gosselin Mathieu

    this is our take on the future of search. We think the problem is not just the relevance of the search but the presentation of the data. Since the human brain process images much faster than text it makes sense to have the search displayed visually. It is much faster and easier to filter the results this way.
    Also we remove the need for click and browsing and that’s why we call can reasonably call it the fastest search engine ever made :
    http://www.psykomatic.com
    If you have any suggestions on how to improve it please do so!

  • http://topsy.com/eu.techcrunch.com/2011/02/13/sortfix-tries-a-different-approach-to-improving-search-suggesting-better-search-terms/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention Sortfix tries a different approach to improving search – suggesting better search terms -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LolCrunch, Juan Sheput, Donald Williamson II, TD, Jennifer Stack and others. Jennifer Stack said: RT @TechCrunch: You Want A Better Search Engine? Sortfix Suggests Better Search Terms http://tcrn.ch/eT028W by @mikebutcher […]

  • http://twitter.com/#!/XNoArchive BrianD

    “the ability to specifically exclude suggested words from a search query – this is something a simple Google search actually can’t do.”

    When did typing -[word] stop being simple ? It may not be as easy as highlight > left click… then again… a lot of the time nailing the highlight without whole sections being grabbed can be frustrating.

    • http://twitter.com/Prinzhorn Alexander Prinzhorn

      That’s exactly what I tried to say in a comment on https://techcrunch.com/2011/02/12/search-still-sucks/

      Most people need to learn how to use Google search before complaining…here’s a short list what I use daily:

      1. – to exclude an expression
      2. + to make an expression mandatory
      3. Quotation marks to group a set of words and form an expression which can’t be split (a web-page must contain exactly this expression or not. Use the + before the expression to make it mandatory)

      Things I don’t use on a regular base, but I know it exists:

      4. Use brackets to group expressions
      5. AND to express that the expression on the left and on the right both are mandatory (similar to using a + before both)
      6. OR to search for either expression

      I bet there are more things. Maybe Google needs to advertise these more…

    • http://twitter.com/Prinzhorn Alexander Prinzhorn

      That’s exactly what I tried to say in a comment on https://techcrunch.com/2011/02/12/search-still-sucks/

      Most people need to learn how to use Google search before complaining…here’s a short list what I use daily:

      1. – to exclude an expression
      2. + to make an expression mandatory
      3. Quotation marks to group a set of words and form an expression which can’t be split (a web-page must contain exactly this expression or not. Use the + before the expression to make it mandatory)

      Things I don’t use on a regular base, but I know it exists:

      4. Use brackets to group expressions
      5. AND to express that the expression on the left and on the right both are mandatory (similar to using a + before both)
      6. OR to search for either expression

      I bet there are more things. Maybe Google needs to advertise these more…

    • http://colemanfoley.blogspot.com Coleman

      That’s way too hard. I would never try to explain that to my mom or grandfather or even any one that’s not a total geek.

  • Anonymous

    …excellent, hppefully the front end prompting for additional search terms will help people become better at the Boolean techniques too. I am quite surprised for as sophisticated as all the search engines are at indexing all the pages out there, that they have not indexed *me* by looking at my searches and my selections! The intersection of indexed web universe and my indexed searches and selections would be *much* more effective than the first alone… or is that a ‘violation’ of my personal space?

  • http://workingforgreen.com Working for Green

    Sounds like company that will be snatched up by one of the search giants.

  • http://shoutreview.com/technology/you-want-a-better-search-engine-sortfix-suggests-better-search-terms/ You Want A Better Search Engine? Sortfix Suggests Better Search Terms | ShoutReview

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • http://www.facebook.com/robertdewey Robert Dewey

    Search is bad, but it can be fixed… most likely by the existing players. I’d really like to see more along the lines of content discovery. Maybe something that taps into my social stream and determines my personality / interests / etc., and coughs up results that might interest me. Based on my response, and the responses of other people similar to me, you would probably start getting pretty good results.

  • http://interesting.rk.net.nz/?p=26917 Suggesting better search terms (Sortfix) « Interesting Tech

    […] Read more here Posted in Uncategorized , interesting, science, tech | No Comments » […]

  • Anonymous

    it looks like shit. and make same sense.

  • http://twitter.com/ruflin Nicolas Ruflin

    With useKit we try to solve the problem in a similar way. Lots of users are using Google to find websites or content they already have visited and bookmarked before. Because of this we show the personalized search results from the content the user already stored in useKit directly inside the google search result page (check out the screenshot below).

    http://useKit.com/content/view/id/33004/usekit-search-results-in-google

    Like this the user receives personalized search results directly inside the google search page. To see the results, the useKit tools have to be loaded (plugin installed or bookmarklet loaded).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Dick/100001695345094 Richard Dick

    Test

  • http://www.iticles.com iticles

    Just tried it, looking very promising!

  • http://www.indiebychoice.com Raimone

    Can’t you do this with Google already by using “” to search exact words and using – to remove certain words?

    Here is a list of other filters: http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=136861

  • http://twitter.com/Prinzhorn Alexander Prinzhorn

    I heard nobody complaining about flash. Well I’ll do.

    Why flash?
    I don’t hate flash per se, but what caused this decision? Was it just because that’s what the existing engineers where best at or is there another reason?

  • Mickey

    The benefit is not the including and excluding words–it’s that it suggests good search terms. This clearly would add value to the vast number of people who don’t know how to use search engines properly on the level of knowing what to type in, not just those who don’t know the simple operators (such as + and -). The implementation can arguably be better, but the idea is pretty neat.

  • http://twitter.com/DynamicCreative frank grasso

    mmm. Can someone tell me how sortfix improves Searching? I went to sortfix and typed “cheap hotels in bangalore” and it suggested words like provides, service,india – how does this help?

  • http://ohsugar.com.au/2011/02/13/you-want-a-better-search-engine-sortfix-suggests-better-search-terms/ Oh, Sugar! » You Want A Better Search Engine? Sortfix Suggests Better Search Terms

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • Me

    Trying out the iPad app and am liking it so far. Much thanks to your raisingmy awareness to this app. Good article!

  • http://bala.im/?p=1367 You Want A Better Search Engine? Sortfix Suggests Better Search Terms Balakrishnan V K - Balakrishnan V K

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • http://www.jewishiphonecommunity.org/news/free-new-searcher-for-ipad Free new searcher for iPad - Jewish iPhone Community

    […] turning the problem into child’s play was possible through the company’s search algorithm. TechCrunch calls it similar to “having a smarter person sitting over your shoulder saying ‘hey, if you add […]

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