More threads by djbaxter


Jun 28, 2012
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Ahrefs Announces Plan for New Search Engine
by Roger Montti, Search Engine Journal
March 27, 2019

Ahrefs CEO Dmitry Gerasimenko announced a plan to create a search engine that supports content creators and protects users privacy. Dmitry laid out his proposal for a more free and open web, one that rewards content creators directly from search revenue with a 90/10 split in favor of publishers.

Dmitry seeks to correct several trends at Google that he feels are bad for users and publishers. The two problems he seeks to solve is privacy, followed by addressing the monetization crisis felt by publishers big and small.

1. Believes Google is Hoarding Site Visitors
Dmitry tweeted that Google is increasingly keeping site visitors to itself, resulting in less traffic to the content creators.
“Google is showing scraped content on search results page more and more so that you don’t even need to visit a website in many cases, which reduces content authors’ opportunity to monetize.”
2. Seeks to Pry the Web from Privatized Access and Control
Gatekeepers to web content (such as Google and Facebook) exercise control over what kinds of content is allowed to reach people. The gatekeepers shape how content is produced and monetized. He seeks to wrest the monetization incentive away from the gatekeepers and put it back into the hands of publishers, to encourage more innovation and better content.
“Naturally such a vast resource, especially free, attracts countless efforts to tap into it, privatize and control access, each player pulling away their part, tearing holes in the tender fabric of this unique phenomena.”
3. Believes Google’s Model is Unfair
Dmitry noted that Google’s business model is unfair to content creators. By sharing search revenue, sites like Wikipedia wouldn’t have to go begging for money.

He then described how his search engine would benefit content publishers and users:
“Remember that banner on Wikipedia asking for donation every year? Wikipedia would probably get few billions from its content in profit share model. And could pay people who polish articles a decent salary.”
4. States that a Search Engine Should Encourage Publishers and Innovation
Dmitry stated that a search engine’s job of imposing structure to the chaos of the web should be one that encourages the growth of quality content, like plant a support that holds a vine up allowing it to consume more sunlight and grow.
“…structure wielded upon chaos should not be rigid and containing as a glass box around a venomous serpent, but rather supporting and spreading as a scaffolding for the vine, allowing it to flourish and grow new exciting fruits for humanity to grok and cherish. ”
For chaos needs structure to not get torn apart by its own internal forces, and structure needs chaos as a sampling pool of ideas to keep evolution rolling.”

This is going to be fascinating to watch. The trick with all of those lofty ambitions is that it takes a lot of 💰MONEY💰 to build a huge search engine like Google, and how will the new proposed alternative be funded?
Yes, this will be interesting - and while I agree it will take a lot of money to build a search engine like Google, the bigger issue will be in marketing and getting folks to use it.

We already have a privacy search engine - DuckDuckGo - but most people do not even know it exists. Their search results are not bad - could use some refinement, but it does a pretty good job (IMO).

The big thing for HREF's will be trying to promote whatever they come up with.
The reason Google is Google is because it answers people's questions quicker and better than any other search engine. They are able to do this because of how much money they make, being able to invest in the best people and the best infrastructure. That's why Bing, even though everyone knows it, can't catch up. They don't innovate. They don't have instant answers and all the stuff Google has.

It also occurs to me that publishers shot themselves in the foot with AMP, allowing Google to take visitors away from them.

I always wondered why someone with scraping ability like ahrefs didn't make their own search engine. But this is a whole new ball game. They will have to innovate. But with privacy such a huge concern and people starting to have a negative image of Google with the tracking and political leanings (perceived or real), there is an opportunity here. It just depends on how they execute it.
I want to be optimistic, but I don't know what would convince users to shift away from google search. The Ahrefs guys have a good plan for the business/website owners, but they didn't say anything to convince me that they'll be able to achieve mass usage by the consumers. It would be a long term venture for sure...and expensive...but ahrefs makes good money and can easily get funded I'm sure.
I don't know what would convince users to shift away from google search
I know. It's kind of like back in the early 2000s when people kept trying to compete with eBay for collectibles auctions. If one place like eBay or Google has a bazillion times more of what you're looking for than anyone else, why would you waste time looking anywhere else.

(Unless they're an obsessive collector, like I have been a few times in my life... but that's another story for another day. 😱)
The only thing I can think of would be anger at Google, which I think is greater in Europe than in North America.
Distrust of Google, privacy concerns, political leanings. It's actually never been more ripe for a competing search engine and it only grows every day.

If there were another search engine apples to apples with Google but gave me my privacy back, I'd take it. However, that will be the problem. Apples to apples.
There is a huge glaring issue for me in the Twitter thread by Ahref's CEO. There is no mention of how/why this search engine will be useful to the user. He mentions the world privacy, but there are far more developed search engines for this. It almost exclusively talks about how it will be beneficial to publishers, but almost no mention about why the average user would want to use it.
Anecdote that supports that: My 10 year was getting frustrated looking something up (on Google) for a homework assignment. When I came over to help, she was annoyed that Google was not just 'giving her the answer' and that she had to click through lots of website links to find it. :confused: I suspect many adults probably want the same thing without realizing what that means for publishers.
Exactly. Having conquered all the other search engines, Google decided to take on services like Quora.

Except the other answer engines weren't search engines. And that moved Google very close to breach of unfair competition and antitrust legislation.

Google forgot something we all learned from Ian Malcom (played by Jeff Goldblum) in Jurassic Park: paraphrasing here but basically just because you CAN do it doesn't mean you SHOULD do it.

Google already has a lot of people and governments unhappy with them.

If anything can bring the House of Google at this point, it seems to me it could very well be this.

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