Review of Startup Yokie.. a Twitter Based Search Engine

  • May 14, 2012
  • Tech
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Review of Startup Yokie.. a Twitter Based Search Engine

Search engines have been evolving a lot in the past couple of years. In the start of the decade, searching the web was seen as a rather mundane thing to do. There were various engines, and each simply indexed pages and posted them in a somewhat intuitive way. But then, Google came in and changed everything with its page ranking engine, along with the many other improvements they added, quickly becoming the dominant search engine on the web. But lately, things have started shifting again. The old search style of the early decade no longer holds true, and now a new startup out of Dublin called Yokie is trying to capitalize on this.

When someone searches for a nearby restaurant, or a meal they would like, or even a recommendation for a movie to watch, they no longer rely solely on Google. Instead, social networks are starting to take a major part in people’s lives. It can be a lot more fruitful to ask your friends to get a recommendation, rather than trust the word of strangers on Google, which is now well known to be filled with SEO enhanced pages. This is the concept that brought the creation of Yokie. They call themselves a people-powered search engine. In reality, they rely on Twitter in order to return relevant results to any query you have. Instead of crawling the web for sites, they crawl Twitter for tweets, and give you a current depiction of what the world is thinking.


The startup was founded by Owen Phelan as a school project, and is now hoping to turn it into a business. Going to the site, we can quickly see that Yokie is a different breed of search engines. They clearly expose in a few slides what their engine does, and why someone would want to use it. If you need to learn about something that requires recent results, for example, Twitter will always be more accurate, because people are typing in tweets all the time, whereas Google needs to crawl sites at regular intervals. But does this type of engine work? Google tried something very similar a few months back, integrating Twitter results within their main search page. Due to a conflict with Twitter, they ended the service, but there was no evidence that the real time search was missed. Also, Yokie only relies on Twitter for now, not Facebook or Google Plus, so the results are limited.

There’s no question that social search is a big part of the future web, and Google knows it, since the whole point of starting Google Plus is to try and get a piece of the action. But as for Yokie, right now its purpose is limited. They will have to increase its range to become useful for more than just a couple of targeted niches. If they were to integrate all social networks, along with regular search, and then have a great algorithm to mash everything together in a way that makes sense, then it may just become the holy grail of search engines.


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