Being The Center of Your Universe

Sep 30, 2008

I spent a lot of time traveling and talking to publishers and publisher networks about the value of Lijit.

“Oh, you are the social search guys.”

“Um, no, we are not social search. We are trusted search.”

“Whats that?”

Social search is often defined as search results that are improved by the input of the community. Chris Sherman, of SearchEngineWatch, writes a great article (albeit a bit dated) about social search and its importance. Even Marissa Mayer of Google, talks about the importance of social search. Mashable, about a year ago, listed about 40 social search engines.

Given all the buzz around social search engines, why do I make the differentiation?

Lijit is focused on providing great results, not from the interaction of the community, but as defined by the publisher. In addition, Lijit is not a destination website, while most search engines, including social search engines are.

Instead, Lijit allows the publisher to be the center of their universe.

The two specific ways that occurs:


Algorithmic and social search engines attempt to index all digital information, and either programmatically or through a community effort, provide relevant and quality results.

Therefore, the assumption is that the indexed content is not trusted, and either needs to have a technical or “cloud” solution applied to them so they can “earn” the right to be included.

Lijit takes the opposite approach. Because its the publisher’s defined content, and the search results are centered around that publisher, the assumption is that the publisher and his created content is trustworthy, and should be included in the results.  The content “earns” its place in the index by default.


Algorithmic and social search engines are constantly consuming content. Google, for example, considers it their mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Most destination search engines take on a similar mission to Google.

Instead, Lijit believes in the concept of the Social Media Starfish.

Lijit is built on the concept that you are at the center of all the content you create online, and that if someone comes to your publication and does a search, the publisher provides context and trust, and the results should reflect that.

In essence, the publisher’s online brand becomes searchable.

image used by permission. Darren Barefoot of Getting to First Base.

Take my blog as an example.

If you do a search (using the default Lijit widget) on my blog for “billie,” I provide the context, and you will see posts, Flickr pictures and YouTube/Viddler/Vimeo videos of my dog.  The fact that I have dogs, and am a bit obsessed with them, is part of my online brand, and is evident in the Lijit results.

You want a more useful example?

Do a search (he has integrated Lijit into his TypePad default search box) at Fred Wilson’s blog for “kozmo” a famous internet company from the “dot com bubble” of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In the returned results you get this post entitled Web Services The Cater To Both The Publisher And The Reader (while Lijit isnt really a web service, I do think we focus on providing a service to publishers that help both them and their readers), you get two great flickr photos of Kozmo swag, and in Fred’s network section a fantastic photo of Seth Goldstein with Lee Majors (who was in the first Kozmo commercial. Lee Majors, not Seth Goldstein).

In both cases, the reader learns more about the publisher.  The level of trust the reader has for the publisher’s content and trusted network grows, as does the publishers online brand.

In this case, I favorited pictures of the Kozmo swag and Seth & Lee (since I worked there in 2000 in San Diego), and friended both Fred and Seth on Flickr.

By allowing the publisher to be the center of his universe, Lijit allows four things to occur:

  1. More relevant results;
  2. The reader learns more about the publisher because he is discovering all of his generated content; this, in turn, allows the reader to
  3. Completely trust the results; and
  4. Discover and trust content that he would not have found using algorithmic or social search engines (case in point the Seth & Lee photo).

For the publisher, being the center of your universe allows you to better engage your readers, by providing them more relevant and trusted content. (Not to mention the search specific stats Lijit provides publishers.)

As a publisher that spends a lot of time and care on the content I create (I know, the surprise is overwhelming) and the personal brand I am building, it is important to have tools that support that effort.  I think thats why I run business development at Lijit versus a social or algorithmic search provider.

Or, it could be that I just like being the center of my universe.

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