Review of Indian Search Engines

The Indian Internet Industry is buzzing with search engines. While the potential is huge, Indian SE companies have tough questions to answer – right from filtering what’s Indian vs. what’s…

The Indian Internet Industry is buzzing with search engines. While the potential is huge, Indian SE companies have tough questions to answer – right from filtering what’s Indian vs. what’s not [source of information as well as the content itself], to increasing the relevancy of the product.

Here is a review of existing players in the SE marketplace::

Funded by Sequoia Capital, Guruji is probably the only search engine that is in real sense, a search engine [Others are city search/yellow pages search engines].

While Guruji is continuously adding new cities to it’s search directory, it’s also entering the local content search space (i.e. providing virtual vernacular keyboards too) – and to me, that’s the smartest move any SE company can make.

Pros: Focussed on city search (and that’s what makes it relevant and needed), Neat UI [Google-like], Good Brand Recall [Guruji is the first co. that comes to my mind when I think of India based SEs]

Cons : Confused positioning (Is it a search engine or a Yellow pages search engine?), Needs better indexing [it hasn’t reached that stage where I will switch from Goog to Guru]
Primarily a Business Search engine, OnYoMo boasts of a nicely executed web 2.0 feature set and has integrated with maps too.

OnYoMo (i.e. On Your Move) has a clear differentiator in terms of category search. You can search for ATMs/Restaurants/ Packers & Movers etc. within areas inside your city.

On the execution front – they have a huge distance to cover, as I searched for ‘Packers and Movers’ in Bangalore and none of the results matched the ones that I was interested in. Infact, the famous/well known P&Ms aren’t part of the search result!
Similarly, search for *citi atm* in koramangala gives me too many noisy results.

OnYoMo, according to me is not a search engine, but a Vertical/Yellow pages search engine. And that is evident from their UI too (which, I am sorry to say is quite painful). First of all, you need to select a city and then type in the query. – which basically means that you are a city search engine.

Pros: Mentioned above, And of course a catchy name [why are you guys not capitalizing on the name?] – Make it a verb? Come up with interesting promotions?
Cons: Execution. These guys are probably trying to do too many things with their product. For e.g. if you select a city, you can search for businesses within the city locations (which is displayed as-you-type). Nice feature – but adds little value since it’s poorly executed.

If a SE expects me to narrow down my search, it should return the most relevant result as well [give-and-take?] – which is not really happening with OnYoMo.

And I am not too impressed with their FAQ – they have tried to portray themselves as a *cool* set of people, but somehow the FAQs looks completely unprofessional and erases the seriousness of what OnYoMo is trying to accomplish.
Acquired by Web2 Corp, ByIndia is positioned as most comprehensive Indian search engine. Only if you understand what does that mean!!

Cons: Too many.

If OnYoMo is tring to do too many things, ByIndia has gone a step ahead and has actually done too many things and none of them makes sense!
For e.g. they are a search engine, a blogging platform, an Indian web directory, classifieds, news site …etc. and etc. !!

And the irony is that none of these pieces have been executed well. I get a feeling that ByIndia is a half-hearted effort and doesn’t seem to go anywhere.
The search engine doesn’t produce any relevant result, Blogging tool is too primitive to use..and I don’t see any value in surfing directories (unless you pay me for that).

Bhramara: Probably India’s first vernacular search engine, Bhramara attempts to collate the meaningful pages and relies on manual content filtering.

“All pages indexed by Bhramara are not automatically spidered but humanly collated and reviewed for content on India. The review process lags behind the collation process as things stand today. While this by itself is a subjective exercise, it is my belief that it improves the seek experience if your intention is to browse India.”

While this may sound great, but I really don’t know how can one scale up a manual SE? Subjectivity in a SE depends on who is reviewing the pages and is highly questionable. Search for Gandhi takes me to IBNLive pages!!

Overall speaking, the Indian SEs are trying to find a niche in city search and category search – which is a good start, but will not go a long way. Imagine the UI when Guruji has indexed 100 cities!!. There has to be more to Indian SEs than city search.

Final verdict:
Guruji seems to be on the right track and I will expect more from them in the near future (planning to raise $10 million in the near future, apart from $6 mn raised earlier).
OnYoMo is coming up with smart features which, if executed well will increase the product stickiness and relevancy.
Bhramara needs to work more on it’s indexing decision – I don’t see much happening there and as of writing this review, Bhramara has suspended its indexing.
And ByIndia? Well, they have got competition(s) to catch up with.

Related: Does India need a National search engine?

Filed under: ,OnYoMo,ByIndia, Bhramara

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