Search Engine Fatigue: A New Way Of Looking At Search

November 1, 2007

Are you familiar with search engine fatigue?  When you type search terms into google/yahoo/ engine of your here, you are generally seeking one particular item, right?  There is no need for thousands of pages of results, most of the time – or even more than a page or two, really.

You might have seen the report from Autobytel about how 7 out of 10 people are suffering from search engine fatigue.  Granted, this is not exactly some horrible, painful problem or anything, but there are a few websites that have stepped up with personalized searches, or they offer search results created by humans, not algorithms.  I’ve previously written about 3Luxe (and so did social media blog Mashable), and you might be familiar with Jason Calcanis’s Mahalo, which aims to create results pages for the top 10% search queries.  Of course, the survey was conducted by the same company that owns and operates a new car website,

While they might not work for every query (for instance, if you’re researching a topic you probably do want tons of results for your queries), I can see the concepts of personalized or human-driven search engines working really well for retail sector of the web.  After all, not all of us have the time or even want wade to thousands of reviews for most products.  Of course, these engines can’t be gamed with SEO or spammers either, which is appealing (the glut of paid listings was also deemed part of the problem in the survey). 

Other areas might benefit significantly too – Mahalo has a “how-to” section, and websites like and also qualify – they have human-written answers to your questions and overviews of topics.  Wikipedia fits in a way, as well, although it is more of a solution for search engine fatigue than a response aimed at the problem.  I could see something travel-related (maybe it’s out there?  Let me know in the comments) working out as well.  Of course, sites like these work best when you have a specific question – broader topics will probably still be the domain of google and the like.

One more note – on Greg Linden’s blog (he’s the founder of Findory, a company that helps people sift through the web and personalize their news), a commenter named Jeremy responded to a search engine fatigue post (“Searchers say, please read my mind“) with “it might be better to see two clusters: Non-commercial sites and commercial sites. Or three clusters: Commercial sites, non-commercial product review sites, and non-commercial “product in action” sites.  Then, if your initial search returned a ranked list of these three clusters, you could pick which one was most relevant to you in that moment.”  That could be an interesting way to combat search engine fatigue as well.


One Response to “Search Engine Fatigue: A New Way Of Looking At Search”

  1. Findory is such a good idea. What I get fatigued by is having to wade through pages of shlock by vendors who pay to have their stuff featured at the top of the page. Meanwhile the stylish, cool things out there are on page 7. Sigh.

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