22
Jun
10

Searching for answers: Quora and the boom in the web search industry

The web search business is booming for engineers hoping to fill the gaps they see left open by Google. One of the new hopefuls who publically launched Monday is Quora.

Developed by two engineers who previously worked for Facebook, the site is a “continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited and organized by everyone who uses it.” Sounds a little like Wikipedia, but rather the site is a search engine for knowledge that people posses that might not be on the web. Things like how to get a reservation at an exclusive club or the inner workings of a specific company would be searchable Quora items. Users must enter their real names and connect the Quora account with a Facebook or Twitter profile. This link helps Quora route questions posed by other users to those who can potentially answer the questions.

To give you a little more insight, here’s the results from searching: How much of a threat is Google Buzz to Facebook and Twitter? on several search sites.

Quora:

Yahoo! Answers:


Google:

and finally, Bing:

As you can see, Yahoo, Bing and Google come up with similar articles written about the topic, where as Quora brings up a long answer direct to the question from a supposed expert on the topic. Quora, which employs a staff of nine, joins the likes of Yahoo and LinkedIn in trying to build a search-like question and answering service that relies on real people, not machines to do the answering. The key with Quora will be in the user being able to identify the validity of the expert’s knowledge on the question as well as someone answering the question posed.

These efforts of industry leaders and start-ups illustrate the continual evolving web search industry, which must constantly adapt to new information and technology. However, the legitimacy and longevity of these startups seems tenuous. Even the more established Yahoo! Answers has received questionable reviews. When asked about the company’s business model, Quora co-founder (and previous chief technology officer at Facebook) said, “if I had to guess, it would probably involve some kind of advertising,” in a Wall Street Journal article.

Nevertheless, others are taking notice. Facebook, Google and others are testing technology for question and answer-based search services and Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are trying to capture more content uploaded directly by individuals including results from Twitter and Facebook.

Definitely something to keep our eyes on because as the search industry changes, so does the effort to appear in the results. If Quora becomes successful, the way marketers create SEO strategy would need a total overhaul, or at least a facelift.

What are you thoughts on this new industry? Does Quora stand a chance?


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