Yebol is a Semantic Search Engine that has been around for about a year now but doesn’t seem to have any exposure on the web. It’s doesn’t have the perfect infrastructure but the search results and presentation of semantic offerings are awesome. So what is it about and why aren’t more people using it? First of all let me explain what Semantic Search is as oppose to traditional return of search results.
Semantic Search in Nutshell
I wrote a post on Semantic Search a few weeks ago but to save you reading that, a semantic search engine will understand your query and venture into categories, various meaning of a particular word or phrase etc. For example a Semantic engine could take [star] and give you categorised results such as Astronomy, Astrology, Celebrity etc. A traditional engine would put all the results in one list and rank them according to whatever method, potentially pushing lesser talked about meanings of a search key phrase off the page. Tim Berners-Lee called semantics the essence of Web 3.0, I honestly wouldn’t call it the most important thing that needs fixing because we have all grown used to search as it is such an important part of our lives now. We all know how to structure a query so we can get out what we want. It’s not that big a deal but it will make search quicker and easier.
The Yebol homepage is simple like a search engine should be. I have been using it as my homepage for a few weeks while testing but if you like a more portal kind of site then check out http://www.yebol.com/index1.htm. Although basic this has news, top searches and categories, I would imagine if it were popular like Yahoo! it would be flashier. I wouldn’t use it to be honest because I’m not that kind of person so let’s concentrate on the search feature.
Upon visiting the homepage it would be nice if the focus went straight to the search box so I could type straight away. This is so simple and something we have become used to as just about every self-respecting search engine does this. This is 1 out of 2 big nags about Yebol I will complete later. Outside the splodge (for want of a better word) there are tick-boxes for the different kind of results that are returned. For some reason all but Twitter seemed to be on by default, I assume it’s a speed issue. They are all self-explanatory but to find out about them it’s best to leave them all checked and perform a search.
According to the Yebol About page a lot of thought went into that splodge and the display of results. I would personally prefer the Image results below the Search Results and News and above Video but the left hand side is spot on.
This is great for navigating straight to official websites or sites of authority. Also where the Search Results would produce a lot of results from the same domain this can help cut the mustard up a little.
This is Semanticism down to a tee. You know those times when you don’t know quite what you are searching for – this is brilliant. It also helps disambiguate various definitions of a word.
I sometimes use Twitter Search to gauge opinion on something and I suppose this is why it is included here. I wouldn’t use it for web search however. It is useful for real-time updates also, try your favourite sports team for potential live scores?
They are pictures. You don’t need that explaining surely.
Here are the traditional list of results a search engine normally produces. This is the bit you would most likely use for when looking for information within a piece of text. It is a never-ending scrolling display which makes it a little difficult to keep track of results but the whole idea of this search engine is that you shouldn’t have to go to far.
News results are the most up to date results from reliable news sources.
Moving image results, obviously.
Quality of Results & Searches
To really test a semantic search engine you need a vague search term such as [watch]. Top sites gives us the option of Wikipedia for the timepiece. Youtube, Dailymotion to watch videos and a dictionary for watch. Related Searches gives us Watch Brands and Horology (how educational!). Images, search results, news and video all give us traditional expectations of [watch]. That’s not bad for a first go. I believe IF i was to search for watch I would be happy with the results. (NB nobody would search this – hence my original thought of is semantics necessary.)
So let’s try [Lady Gaga] again as we did in my Duck Duck Go review. I won’t breakdown the results you can do that yourself but I am impressed. Mightily impressed. I now know what she looks like, what she is comparable to, where to directly find her presence on the web and latest news and opinion on her. This is exactly what I would expect a search engine to be, without having to click-through various types of search types and pages of results.
I tried [Canon 1d] on Yebol, Google, Bing and Yahoo!. Google displays a mash-up of different types of results which makes Yebol’s presentation look great. Yahoo, again, provides too many adverts before results. All Engines are generally equal on relevancy but though providing more types of results and query refining options, Yebol lacks on a shopping search or shopping type results. Could this be the next thing for them to do?
I always like to try [Anphicle] for a good reason. I would expect this site to return first but some search engines are so absorbed in twitter, tumblr, the social web and popularity that often some off-the-cuff tweet gets to be the definition of Anphicle. Hakia, Kosmix et al, I am looking at you.
- Yebol does seem to index results quickly
- Top Sites and Related Searches are awesome
- Results are great!
- No Shopping Search
- 2nd Nagging Thing – Every time you click on an item a new bloody window pops up. This is great for when comparison is the order of the day but it mainly isn’t. Even for when this is called for I could do it myself with a click of the mouse scroll wheel. I was so put off by this I just emailed in feedback that this has to go.
- No local targeting. I acknowledge Yebol as a new player on the search market and so forgive them at this moment that no local (yebol.co.uk) facilities exist. Even on a semantic search engine this is really needed.
- I miss the URLs in Search Results. I know this is petty but I like to know what site I’m clicking through to. I’d also like the suggested searches below each result to be a part of that site like Google does with some of its top results. I don’t think this is necessary because Google do it but rather that it is a useful service.
The thing with semantic search is that you occasionally see a completely unrelated suggestion. That is the problem with artificial intelligence as a whole, and it will always be like that. But the results you wanted will still be there it’s just a slur to see something off the cuff next to it. That’s just how the technology works. As far as Yebol goes, I think it is the best semantic search engine available at the moment. I briefly mentioned about other Semantic Search Engines (Hakia, Kosmix etc) and they just don’t compare. And as for Mahalo, give me a break. I wouldn’t rely on Yebol just yet for the cons I have mentioned but will I continue to use it? Probably yes. If only it had the !bang feature of Duck Duck Go it would make the perfect default homepage. Will it grow into the biggest search engine of the next 10 years? I don’t think so which is a shame. No updates seem to be made and no PR machine that exists with other search engine is apparent with Yebol. Even searching for opinions and reviews of Yebol on any search engine don’t seem to return much interest in the site. But I am a fan.