I am sitting down today with Curt Dalton, the founder of the new search engine NowRelevant.com and the trends and niche finding software at The Internet Time Machine. Both projects are about a year old and I wanted to catch up with Curt to see how the projects are going.
JC: Hi Curt, thanks for the time today.
CD: Hi John, always a pleasure to talk to you.
JC: So after a year with the Internet Time Machine and launching NowRelevant.com, how is it going?
CD: We are doing great! The Internet Time Machine project has been very popular with Internet marketers and bloggers. It has allowed users to find new trends and niches to make money in, whether it be developing products, ppc, or even Google Adsense. NowRelevant.com is growing very quickly. We just completed our 2nd server upgrade, which is always a nightmare, to handle the traffic and new ad network we are building out. We hope to be showing 5 million impression the network by the end of Q1 this year, and double it every 90 days after that…lots of $0.03 clicks still out there! (laughing)
JC: Most people would be really intimidated to start a new search engine and go against the likes of Google, Bing, and Yahoo. So many have failed trying to do it, what gave you the idea that you could be successful.
CD: I actually get that question a lot, and it usually ends with the word “idiot” so thanks for not adding that in…
JC: You’re welcome.
CD: First, we figured out a three step plan that almost any search engine could gain market share on with Google. Second, I think those other companies made a fatal area and tried to “BE” Google, or beat Google at their own game. Google is very good at being Google, and you never want to try and do the same thing they do. You need to look at their complaint department and see what people DON’T like about Google, start there.
For example, NowRelevant.com shows you everything about a subject, but only for the last 14 days. We do this because a major complaint about Google is showing you 44,000,000 results for your search query in 0.02 seconds. According to web stats, 99.99% of web users will never go past page 3 of a search result query, so why show 44,000,000 results? How much does it cost Google a year to show you those results and to bring them all up in $0.02? It must be worth it or they wouldn’t be doing it, they do test like crazy over there…
We saw an opportunity not only to give more of a “heart beat of the Internet” search results by doing more blog, forum, and social media based results that Google’s standard “wiki, amazon, shopping links, site URL format on page #1, but also to give a time based results set. So every day we drop day #14 from our results and get the current day as #1.
JC: Sounds interesting, so tell me the 3 steps to cracking Google’s dominance?
Curt: Step 1 – Attack the theory that the algorithm can solve everything. Yes, you do need an algorithm to weed out spam and low quality sights, but you can also allow users to submit sites to your engine. Allow actual people to build the search engine they want, based on human input and actual submissions. At NowReleavnt.com we have a site submit feature that allows anyone to submit their site or RSS feed to us, and then we run it through our algorithm to make sure it is a quality site. It is similar to Yahoo submission directory, but you also use code to weed out the spammer and SEO dummy sites. This allows users who update their sites regularly and have real sites, to get free traffic from us. Plus, psycologically, it gives the person a sense of “ownership” and “belonging”. They actually submitted their site as a human being and didn’t get indexed by a bot. In a sense, as marketers talk about the reciprocity theory, they actually feel they “owe” use for the free traffic. I don’t mean owe us money, but they send out the site to friends and give us a “like” on Facebook.
CD: Step 2 – One of the major complaints with Google is SPAM and SEO dummy sites from content factories getting listed in their top 2 pages. This relates to the whole content factory issue that Google si fighting now and actually changing their whole search algorithm to combat. Basically, in a nutshell, content factories say “since it is so hard to rank on page #1 for something in Google, we will just flood your crawlers with 5,000 entries on “canoe paddling” and some of those will get through the wall and place on the first page”. It is a sheer brute force method to overwhelm the Google selection system. Since the Internet Time Machine has to filter out those types of sites to get true results on the niche and trend side, we just apply that same 13 step algorithm to NowRelevant.com and automatically remove SPAM and DUMMY sites from our results.
JC: Step 3?
CD: Social media. Social media is a big weakness for Google. Their rivalry with Facebook is destroying them slowly. They failed miserably in social media at all attempts and the biggest fear they have right now is that Facebook launches its own search engine. If this happens, and it is good, Google is in big, big, trouble. Their search will be destroyed, so the Android system will have to save them. Think about this…why do you go to Google? You go to search for stuff. Once you are done searching and have an answer, what do you do? You go back to Facebook and hang out there for a few hours. Now, what is Facebook, lets say with Bing, ooops, they already did that…teams up and designs a search based on an decent algorithm, which Bing has, and based on “Likes”? Bingo! They are already doing Step #1 from above, the same step NowRelevant.com. Use technology to index and weed out poor quality sites, but allow human interaction, in this case “likes”, influence results. It is brilliant! If there was a high quality search engine, IN FACEBOOK, that you could just click over to, do a search, get results, and stay in Facebook, Google is done. They know it, Facebook knows it, and Bing knows it too, hence the partnership.
NowRelevant.com has used a completely grassroots social media campaign to build out search volume. When you allow people to use it and like it and send it out to people, they take ownership of it. It becomes “their” search engine, since they found it or discovered it.
We love using social media like Facebook and Twitter for our updates and to run promotions like giving away Amazon gift cards with our widget download and offering an affiliate program to all advertisers to make money on people they refer to our ad network. No other search engine does that. Image if Google stepped up and had an affiliate program on PPC accounts and you got 20% of whatever people you sent deposited in the PPC program….forever. We do that.
JC: Wow, that is cool. So to wrap it up, if you want to take a crack at Google, you need to not try and be Google or beat Google and being Google to start, right?
CD: Yes. Find a niche that Google is too big to service and fill that void.
JC: Then you need to allow human interaction, like your site submission and Facebook’s LIKE function, into your model.
CD: Yes, the algorithm is all mighty, but it can’t get smart enough to do EVERYTHING.
JC: Remove spam and dummy sites is next?
CD: Yes, this is the battle Google is in with content factories, especially from China, right now.
JC: Use social media is step 3?
CD: Yes, it is a major weakness of Google, so hence, it has to be a strength of yours.
JC: And offering an affiliate program to bloggers and marketers doesn’t hurt either?
CD: Good point..make that step #4! (laughing)
JC: That is great stuff, thanks for your time and I hope to see great things for NowRelevant.com and The Internet Time Machine in 2011.
CD: Thanks John!