Interview of Quintura Search CEO Yakov Sadchikov

Sep 11th

When was Quintura launched? What gave you the idea to launch it? What problems were you trying to solve by launching it?

Quintura was founded in August 2005 and released its first search application in November of that year. One year later, we launched a web-based search. It was based on visual context-based search concepts that the founders had been developing since 1990s. Quintura was founded to solve several fundamental problems inherent with today's search engines. Those problems include too many irrelevant search results returned, no one reads past the first page of results; inability to manage or tune results by defining context or adding search scope; no means for users to graphically visualize search terms or manage their relationship/relevance. Quintura is designed to make it visually simple for searchers to find what they are looking for, and to make it easy for web publishers to expose the content their visitors are looking for.

You guys have got a lot of great press from tech bloggers. On the marketing front what are some of the biggest and most successful surprises you have encountered? What have you found to be hardest when marketing your search service?

The simple fact that there is a tremendous amount of interest in our technology and service, in spite of the large field of alternative search engines on the market. We've invested most of our time and efforts in research and development. Our biggest challenge has been in getting our first marketing message out, which is we're in the process of expanding now to mainstream media.

How do you guys generate the keyword clouds?

That's part of the magic behind the Quintura technology. At the heart of our technology is a semantic-based 'neural network' algorithm. The cloud is literally a depiction of those search terms laid out to show their contextual relationship. Since the graphic depiction is dynamic - (you are interacting with the search in real time) one of our design goals has been to develop the widget to be extremely responsive. Through the past year, we think we've reached that point.

Quintura is popular as a keyword research tool amongst many SEOs (I use it all the time). Have you thought about combining your service with search volume data and/or competitive research data to create a formal premium keyword research (or competitive research) service/tool?

We've been asked that several times, but for now, our goals are to provide the best consumer site search services to the market and to provide our search widget to as broad an end-user audience as possible.

Quintura makes boolean search easy to visualize. Do you think searchers will eventually start using advanced search operators more on general web search engines, or will most only use it when it is presented in an aesthetically friendly way like Quintura does?

The question is whether users want to become adept at boolean logic or would they prefer to have that hidden in the background. From our experience, users would prefer to focus not on the math but on the search itself - finding the most relevant results in the least amount of time. By laying out search terms contextually and graphically, Quintura helps users manage their search and be in control of their search.

When partners sign up for Quintura you guys create a custom index from a crawl of their sites. How many domains can be part of the same index? What sort of sites does Quintura's visual search work great on? Which ones are not as strong of a match?

There is no limit. We're glad to work with large web publishers directly to assure that we are indexing all important content as part of our site search solution. The publisher of several web-sites can create a “vertical” search engine based on the Quintura search cloud. Quintura works well with all web-sites that we have worked with to date including numerous amount of blogs. Though, our first major site search clients were lifestyle portals and lifestyle magazine web-sites.

Do you see the face/interface of general web search changing drastically in the coming years? How might it change?

The web is getting more visual. So is search interface. That’s the trend. We are enabling our content-publisher customers to be more creative through customization of the widget itself. We're also looking at ways to make the search results even easier to see through the use of even more graphics.

Does Google have general search locked up? What competitive positions might allow people to build out a strong competitor that can take marketshare from Google?

General search is mostly locked up with Google. In my opinion, the best way of taking a marketshare from Google is not by building a better search destination site, but by changing the paradigm – give reasons for users not to make a decision to go to a search engine. Because when the think search engine, they think Google. Essentially, what Quintura site search does is creating environments where users keep exploring the passions, their interests, their information needs from where they are on the Web. People go to search engines when they can’t find what they want where they are.

Chitika has created a fairly large sized behaviorally targeted ad network by targeting ads to the search query prior to people landing on a page. Your site search strategy seems like it could be a rather powerful strategy for building a strong network. How has growth been going? Do you have any interesting success stories from the publisher or advertiser standpoints?

Quintura currently powers site search for a monthly audience of 8 million site users. The tests are underway on various U.S. sites, including two major men’s lifestyle sites and an educational publisher. We plan to reach the audience of 50 million in 2009. You can see Quintura search widget on lifestyle sites Maxim.com, Passion.ru and Cosmo.ru; technology news sites ReadWriteWeb.com and Compulenta.ru, business community portal E-xecutive.ru; web-sites of consumer magazines Hilary Magazine, Russian Newsweek, ComputerBild, luxury news site LeLuxe.ru, in addition to hundreds of smaller web-sites and blogs that joined our affiliate program for site search. We have also approached several online advertisers including security software vendor Kaspersky Lab to advertise on our search widget network of sites.

What types of ads work especially well with a service like Quintura? Which ones are less strong?

We have tested both contextual search ads and display ads. We are going to blend search ads with display ads for more visual appeal. Plus, can target those contextual graphic search ads with much greater precision because of our context-based algorithm. Ads from companies with established brand logos benefit from our ability to graphically display their logos in the search cloud.

What areas does Quintura have a lot of inventory in?

It is in lifestyle and technology areas.

Many search engines (Google, Yahoo! Search, Live), large content & commerce sites (Amazon.com, eBay, Wikipedia), and browsers (IE8 Beta 2, Google Chrome, Firefox 3) are now adding search suggestions in the browser via the search box and/or address bar. Do you see this eventually evolving into a Quintura-like service?

It’s a helpful feature that is mostly based on search statistics. We go a step further by offering contextual suggestions. One of the greatest aspects of our display cloud is that it shows contextually-related results, and to depict them with a graphical element. Can you imagine a shoppng experience that lets you see related items in real time?

Quintura is currently powered from the Yahoo! index. Do you guys ever plan on creating your own web-wide search index?

As a matter of fact, we are already creating our own web index from individual indexes of web-sites where Quintura powers site search. Quintura site search on those web-sites is powered by search results from Quintura index of those sites.

How many regular users does Quintura.com have as a search destination? Do you guys intend to become a consumer search destination, or are you more focused on providing search for third party sites?

We focus on providing site search, analytics and monetization platform for web publishers and content owners. As a search destination, Quintura has less than 1 million users per month. We will continue operating and developing our search sites to provide the benefits of our search technology to users. For example, Quintura.com will evolve into an online research tool where registered users will be able to save and share their searches online with the other registered members.

You guys have a vertical search service for kids. Is that seeing good adoption? Do you plan on coming out with any other vertical search engines?

Children are far more graphically oriented and can grasp contextual depictions easily. It was a natural extension for us to offer a search engine designed specifically for children - Quintura for Kids. It's also a great test bed for us to further evolve search technologies while giving kids a hand. The search engine is used mostly in the elementary schools and public libraries in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Since its first launch in March 2007, several hundred school and teacher web-sites linked to Quintura for Kids. According to site statistics, the search engine has 70 percent returning visitors. 75 percent of visitors come to the site directly from a browser. In June 2007, Quintura for Kidswas ranked the highest among search engines for kids by Search Engine Watch.

We evaluate additional opportunities including licensing our technology to intranets and major search engines.

For now, our hands are full with upcoming site search product enhancements and monetization as well as  with our growing site search customer base.

Published: September 11, 2008

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Comments

September 12, 2008 - 12:16pm

I don't necessarily use Quintera often for search but it helpful for a little extra keyword research...I've been working on a site lately where the search volume is so low that even the site at #1 get about 2,000 visitors, and that's a 1,000 page site!

I found quintera really helpful for offering more keyword ideas, following on from a tip you gave in an interview you had actually Aaron (with seoworld.entrepreneur I think - or something like that...)

Anyway I now use it a little bit more often than I used to and it's quite a helpful one for quickly giving new ideas - some other keyword tools tend to be a little sluggish at time I feel.

Also, I think the ultimate test in intuitive searching / technology is how kids respond - so if they like it then it certainly looks like they are going in the right direction.

...I had a couple of hours driving an 8 ton digger believe it or not last month as a 'red letter day' gift from my girlfriends family and being a little concerned about my inexperience they reassured me by saying that even a child can drive one, and they were right! Kids were using them all over the place! Check it out: Diggerland in Castlefield, North Yorkshire, UK! (I have no affiliation with them just love to dig! Ha!)

Point being...maybe the proof in the search engine usability pudding is how well kids like to use it...

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