Occasionally I like experimenting with new ways to search the internet. I’ve been living this very Google-centric life for some time now and I think it’s good to expose myself to other options. SearchMe started its invite-only beta testing about a month ago and because of all the hype, I figured I’d give it a try.
SearchMe is a visual search engine that gives you results in a slick, cover flow view. Visual search is nothing new. Tools like Spacetime, also with a cover flow view, and GooglePreview, a Firefox plug-in, are attempting to give you a visual search experience but both require you to download something.
Others, like Snap, have given visual search, sans download, a try but they never seem to gain enough traction and change strategies. Still some visual search engines remain. Exalead and EagleFind, both incorporate some form of visual search but they are nowhere near as visually pleasing as SearchMe.
Besides its visual appeal, SearchMe’s biggest advantage is its categorization feature. As you type your search query, categories auto-populate. This is handy for a search like “L7″, a band, a cell phone model and a sizing option. In this case I meant the band, so I can select the most relevant category and skip the useless information. You still have the option of searching through uncategorized results, should you need to.
The displayed results are eye catching but you have no idea how many results matched your search. However, I found my results to be pretty accurate and free of junk, especially after selecting a category. Maybe that’s because SearchMe isn’t as massive as Google, with about one billion pages indexed (compared to Google’s 20 billion). Even so, having a total number of results would be handy. For those of you addicted to the list view, you can adjust the cover flow view so you can see a list view as well. I still need a list view when I search. I haven’t completely adapted to visual only.
There are a handful of customization features that allow you to personalize your searches. Adult content is automatically filtered out of your results but you can opt for an unfiltered search experience. You also have the option of selecting either a “day” or “night” theme to your search page. One other preference is the ability to set whether or not links open in a new window. Kind of pointless when most search savvy users will apple/ctrl click to open links in a new window. SearchMe seems useful for searches with results that would be better displayed visually, like videos or photographs. In time, it may prove to be an engine capable of competing with Google, but it’s hard to imagine anything capable of that.
It’s still in private beta but they’re giving everyone access if you submit an email address. If you’re skeptical about it, watch the demo and see if that draws you in. I still find myself going back to Google for most searches but I enjoy having the ability to search visually, especially with cover flow. It just looks cool.
Written by Renee Valdez, A dot com junkie, music lover and frequent blogger at Shopwiki’s Overlooked, a blog showcasing overlooked products from Shopwiki’s webcrawlers.