This article was published on February 12, 2010

Should you be Wowed by Discovery Engine WOWD?

Should you be Wowed by Discovery Engine WOWD?
Charles Knight
Story by

Charles Knight

Charles Knight is the editor of The Next Web Search. Charles Knight is the editor of The Next Web Search.


WOWD is a relatively new realtime discovery engine.  Today they announced the addition of a tag cloud to their site, and their “SearchStream.” The question is, should you be “wowed” – or not?

The only way to find out was to run a few tests. By searching WOWD for the query ‘search engine’ I expected two things to happen:

wclda) The tag cloud should show terms related to ‘search engine’ that might prompt me to check out a related term that I might not otherwise have thought of.  Here’s what that looks like. The verdict? Good. ‘engine’ doesn’t help me much, but ‘google acquires’ and ‘aardvark’ (the social search engine) could tip me off to important news that I might have missed.

With traditional search, you cannot search for news about Google acquiring Aardvark if you don’t know about it in the first place!

b) I would expect the search results column to be relevant to my query and very fresh.  
The verdict? Again, Good.  I got this result of my own post, which is flattering:

TNW Search
Q: In this world of massive indexes, realtime search and semantic … If you use any other search engine, well, you deserve to get found out.
4 hours ago

And I also got this one:

Marshalls Clothing Company Search Engine
Site search engine … Your search for bras did not return any matches (182 documents were searched):

(I did not search for bras, honest.)

I stand corrected; CEO Mark Drummond breaks in here:

Great analysis, Charles.

To be fair, your example used Wowd’s “Best now” sort order, which is our version of a real-time ranking. This takes into account a number of ranking factors, with a strong bias towards recency (favoring recent index entries).

So that’s why you found a recent page about Marshall’s Clothing Company. Not as relevant as other sites that might match, but very recent.

To optimize around absolute relevance, you need to pick the other sort order, which is “Best all time”. This implements a link-based analysis of the pages that match your search term and that are the best-possible results, ignoring time as a ranking factor.


Mark Drummond

This next one exemplifies how tricky keyword search can be because it has ‘search’ and ‘engine’ in it but has nothing to do with ‘search engine(s).’

Nightfall Mysteries: Curse of the Opera Walkthrough | Big Fish Games Blog Search the Maestros Room … Pick up the CAP in the lower left and place it on the engine in the upper left.

But I’m being very picky. Here’s the really good part:

It gave me a link to some very recent (People Search Engine) Whoozy news, the awesome movie phrases search engine SubZin, and the (almost) new version of Sortfix. For the work that I do, these tips alone made it worth the trip to WOWD. Finally, the realtime updating worked very smoothly, always gently pushing the new results when I asked for them.

So was I “wowed?” by WOWD?  (The way I was wowed by Siri!*) I think that’s a strong word for what are basically site improvements.  Let’s say that I was very pleased to discover some great search engine news, so I think you should give it a try also for your queries.

*This is no joke. If the new Virtual Personal Assistant Siri has no use for a site, then it may not get much traffic when we all switch to Siri or some other VPA. Is that crazy talk? No; just remind yourself that over time just about the whole world switched to Google for their informational needs.

Web 3.0 is when we all switch to Siri, or another VPA, for our real needs. Siri *does* things, and it swallows up Search like a fish eating a worm. Anyway, if you (literally) asked Siri to find out if there was any search engine news today, it might go to Google news, or various news feeds, or a discovery site like WOWD for leads, just like I did as a human. It would then combine the results into one neat report.

Bottom line: WOWD needs to focus on wowing Siri, not me. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, it’s time to wake up, this train is leaving the station boys! Selah.

Here’s the obligatory screenshot:

Screen Shot for 2.0 Release

And the obligatory CEO quote:

“These features highlight the best aspect of Wowd’s real-time search: fortuitous discovery,” said Mark Drummond, CEO. “Wowd doesn’t solely rely on tweets for real-time information. Our results are based on what the majority of people are interested in across the entire Web, at any given moment.  This is the inherent power of Wowd—Web-wide, real-time search and discovery. We believe this approach will have a profound impact on the value of the information gleaned from the Web.”

I have a call scheduled for tomorrow with Mark, so you may see a comment from him after this post, or I may come back and add to this post if he threatens me with bodily harm. :-)

Back to top