Natural Search Blog

Build Your Own Local Search Engine

Quite a few bloggers out there have clued-in to how using Eurekster’s Swickis on their blogs can be a cool feature enhancement, providing custom thematic search engines for their users. If you have a blog that focuses on particular subject matter, inclusion of useful links and other features like these custom search engines can help to build loyalty and return visits. But, for webmasters who build local guides for small communities, Swickis are also an ideal way to rapidly provide robust, location-specific search functionality.


Over time, I’ve looked at a lot of small community guides, and many of the people who create them are masters of finding free widgets to provide functionality for things like weather forecasts, news headlines, and local events. But, many of these sites are missing even simple search functionality to help users find the local info on their site as well as elsewhere on the internet. (more…)

Los Angeles Times Google Map of California Fires

Every day it seems like someone else is using Google Maps for some interesting application, and today’s yet another example. The LA Times has put together a special map of the fires raging in California:

California Wildfires Map
(click to enlarge)
or (pan/zoom map)

Share-able online mapping systems like Google Maps have really empowered people to easily use geographic data in extraordinary ways.

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Infospace to Merge with Marchex?

MarchexAt least, that’s what this Forbes article theorizes as one possible explanation, quoting a Wall Street analyst:

“Scott Sutherland, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, said the most likely scenario is that the company will take InfoSpace private to save money or merge with the search and media company, Marchex, whose executives are former executives at InfoSpace.”

Just yesterday, I expressed a bit of confusion about why InfoSpace made deals to sell off their mobile services to Motricity, and sell off directory services to Idearc’s Superpages… (more…)

Antisocial Media Optimization

Techcrunch amused me greatly by mentioning Hatebook, the “anti-social utility that connects you with the people YOU HATE.” If you’re already a member you can “Bog off”, and it invites you to “upload blackmail material”, “publish lies”, and “get the latest gossip from your enemies”. The jokes abound on this antisocial networking site — check out the stuff on the “edit your profile” screen I saw when I signed up:

(click to enlarge)

The site made me stop and think: would it be possible to optimize through antisocial networking? (more…)

Is InfoSpace Cashing Out?

First it was announced that InfoSpace was selling Switchboard and other directory properties of theirs to Idearc for $225 million. Today InfoSpace announces that they’re selling off their mobile services business for $135 million.


InfoSpace’s release says that they’re selling off the mobile services “…to focus on online search”. They’re apparently going to also give a chunk of this change back to their shareholders in a dividend.

This just makes me wonder, is Infospace cashing out?

Local search has been one of Infospace’s strengths over time — they even changed their core website a few years ago to focus on local search & yellow pages more — prior to that they’d been a more general search engine (they still own general meta search engines like

Also, this mobile service sale seems odd since the rest of the internet marketing industry is starting to hyper-focus on mobile search and services.

Even though “yellow pages” directories are not exactly the same thing as local search, you’d expect for InfoSpace to hold onto the assets (and hold onto the mobile services), or to sell the assets to use the money to capitalize on the search areas where they want to focus. So, why are they doing this?

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Voice Search the Next Big Thing in Mobile

Gregg Stewart has a great article today at Search Engine Watch on how Voice Search may be the “next big thing” that’s actually already arrived to large degree.

He posts an interesting graph from the Kelsey Group that estimates some fantastic growth figures for ad-sponsored directory assistance usage over the next few years.

Although I don’t really question any of the points Gregg made (more…)

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