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Ukrainian creates 'Google killer': why does he need it and how he hopes to outplay the online giant

The killer of Google and paid subscriptions. How a native of Nizhyn (Ukraine) creates a search engine and what makes it unique, reports "European truth".

Photo: Shutterstock

There are many search engines in the world. The first of these was Yahoo !, which appeared back in 1994.

Now the most popular search engine is Google. According to June data, 92,47% of users prefer it.

Its closest competitor is Microsoft's Bing. Although, according to Google, most often Bing is asked: “Where can I download Google?”.

In China, Baidu is popular, in Russia - Yandex, and among people who are worried about their personal data - DuckDuckGo, which works in open source on the principle of maintaining anonymity.

However, another player will soon enter the market: a search engine from the creators of Ahrefs, which in the near future may become a “Google killer”.

Ahrefs is a service that helps website owners and SEO specialists identify their main competitors, analyze the product, find the reasons for low rankings and improve the quality of search traffic.

In 2010, Ahrefs created Dmitry Gerasimenko, a native of Nizhyn and a student at KPI, who moved to Singapore in 2012 and started developing his company there. According to Owler, she now makes about $ 66400000 million a year.

How will the new search engine work, thanks to which it can impose the fight on the global monopolist?

Dmitry says that the idea to create a search engine has always been interesting, but he did not understand why a search engine should be made when there is Google - “it's free, everything is cool there, everything works well”.

But since on his main project (SEO service - EP), they work a lot with webmasters (people who maintain sites - EP), it was clear what problems they had with Google.

“For example, he starts to remove some websites from the search results and more and more adds his services. They try to build everything around themselves and do not give traffic to others, ”says Dmitry.

“At some point, a thought arose: how can this be done better? For example, why not compensate for those writing content? There is this contrast when they (Google - EP) use Wikipedia content in their search results. ”

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“But we see Wikipedia showing a banner every year“ Give us $ 5 to pay for our servers, ”and Google makes $ 160 billion a year using Wikipedia content. And how would everything be ok. But it seems to me that this is not ok. "

Gerasimenko says: “The idea of ​​the search engine was born with the idea of ​​the Internet, which we all dreamed of. When the top knowledge is displayed on the search query, and not the ads on which Google just makes money. "

And he adds: “This is also a story of injustice, because the content creators who work on the quality of the material, check it, must earn for their work directly through the business model“ 90/10 ”.

“On web pages, when you create a blog or news site, you will need to include the author ID. Then our crawler (crawler is a program that systematically makes requests on the Internet to create a web index, storage of copies of all web pages on the Internet - EP) will see this ID and write down that this content is yours, ”explains Dmitry Gerasimenko.

The most interesting task of the project is to find a criterion for evaluating content so that creators receive a fair fee. The developers plan to introduce a “usefulness metric” of the content to determine the payout according to the profit sharing model.

Creators will receive 90% of all search engine advertising revenue based on the usefulness of the content they create. Gerasimenko plans to share the profit with all content creators, regardless of the scope of its application - be it a shopping review or encyclopedic knowledge.

“We don't want to 'track' users, - says Dmitry, - initially we want to make sure that we don't have user history. Of course, we need to store the queries themselves somewhere so that we can improve our search result ”.

He explains that he needs to know what people are looking for in general, but his search engine will not create a history of a person's searches so that he can track what you were looking for.

Therefore, information that can identify you is initially cut off, and then processed by a new one in the system without this information.

User personal information and search queries

“Search queries are information that the user types into the search bar so that we understand which queries are more, which are fewer, how to work with advertisers, how to improve algorithms,” says Gerasimenko.

"The personal information that Google and other search engines collect and store to sell to advertisers and companies for research is a different story."

“That is, information about who you are, what you do, what is your dog's name, what are your preferences in any areas of life, will not be stored with us, and we will not transfer it to any third parties,” the developer assures.

Photo: Shutterstock

Regarding the work of DuckDuckGo, Dmitry said that there is a problem: they do not index the entire Internet. Therefore, when a request comes to them, it goes further to Bing, Yandex, somewhere else. Then they collected these results and gave you the best. That is, a request that comes from you goes to several companies and you need to trust them.

“How are we better in terms of privacy? We build our own data center, we have our own servers that belong to us, we use cloud. That is, this data does not leave us anywhere. It turns out that we have more control, ”the creator emphasized.

Its developers are trying to make a good quality of results, at the same time, so that it is elevated for them: “No company, no startups build data centers and servers, it is very expensive. This needs to be supported, it needs incredible expertise, you need to hire people who understand this, and there are very few of them on the market. "

To create a new company or a product, everyone uses cloud servers that are owned by Amazon or Google. In fact, this is the transfer of information that is stored on other people's servers, works and is processed.

There is a certain risk in this.

“We have already invested about $ 50 million to deploy our data center. Seeing it, one can imagine what hopes the company is investing in the search engine project, - says Dmitry. - Data centers are located in Europe, in the Netherlands, and the new one, where most of the search is located, is in Singapore. It is planned to open another one in the USA, another one in Europe, to be closer to the users ”.


Dmitry stressed that relevance is what his team is working on: "Our first goal is to achieve quality like Bing, and then we will strive for Google."

Regarding the influence of personal data on the quality of results for specific users, Gerasimenko said: “If I'm not mistaken, the user's personal information does not greatly affect organic search results, because there are clear parameters for assessing the quality of content. For example, if you look at some kind of news request, informational, encyclopedic, Google evaluates the information it gives out according to certain parameters: how many sites have referred to this information, how verified the information is, how relevant, not outdated. That is, the history with the issuance is far from personal data. Advertising works on personal data. If Google makes 100 billion, then say 10 billion is more than enough to provide this service. To make money - show ads in search results in a similar way. Another difference is that Google is a huge company with a huge number of beneficiaries, investors and interested people who, simply by their existence, earn a huge part of the company's profits. "

Ahrefs is a slightly different company, explains Dmitry. “So far only 80 people work for us. We have never attracted investments. That is, there are no people who are interested in pocketing more profit. Yes, there will be some operational costs for maintaining servers, teams. But if the profit is so much, then you can cover the operating costs headlong and get a very, very good income. "

Google has a relatively small part of the team directly involved with the search engine. They spend more on launching 20-30 startups annually.

There is a different cost and benefit structure. It is very different from what happens at Ahrefs. “Therefore, we can afford to give 90% of the profits,” adds Dmitry.

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The developer explains that any site owner can add this markup on the page and say that this content is his, he would like to receive a profit share from it.

“Initially, our advertising revenue will be small, but there will also be few people who have posted this ID on their site. Therefore, we can normally compensate them for everything. As advertising revenue grows, people will pay more attention to us, there will be more people posting this ID. We plan to grow at a normal pace in two directions: the arrival of money and who needs to distribute it, ”says Dmitry.

Test run

Dmitry Gerasimenko said that the test launch of the new search engine is already underway: “Since September, Google has forced to add alternative search engines to Android in Europe. Since September, our search engine is already there. We are already collecting some users and, according to their requests, we see what people are looking for, what search results we have, and we continue to improve them. We don't want to attract too many visitors until we are sure of our relevance. We do not want people to come, see, be disappointed and never come again. So you can call it “pretesting”.

Since Ahrefs is a private and independent company, there is no financial or managerial pressure on our projects. Therefore, the release of the search engine is tied solely to the technical readiness of the product for testing by a wide audience, and not to any specific dates.

“If we translate the readiness into percent, then at the moment the readiness of the search is somewhere around 87%. A month ago it was 60%, ”says Dmitry.

Over the ten years of the existence of the company Ahrefs, which is engaged in SEO-optimization of sites, they have built a bot that walks on sites, collects a web index, that is, a copy of the entire Internet, billions of pages.

“The bot collects all this array of knowledge, stores and somehow“ processes ”. In fact, this bot gives a very strong technological advantage to build a visible competitor to Google, ”the developer says.

Web index

“There are three web indices: Google, Microsoft and ours. If you search Google for different search engines, then 90% of them either take the results from Google, change the branding and show them as their own, or take them from Bing, because Microsoft even sells them, this is official, ”explains Dmitry.

And he adds that you can buy Bing results, add your branding and earn from ads yourself, but there is a caveat: you have to earn more than you spend on buying these results.

“We were lucky that the first Ahrefs product was, in fact, the first step that organically moves to building a search engine. Now we have developed a technologically intelligent base that allows us to continue to deal with beautiful problems with great advantage, to optimize these things,” says Gerasimenko ...

Search engine name

It is not yet known what name the search engine will have.

Dmitry says that it turned out that it is not so easy to find a free domain that fits the product concept, a name that does not intertwine with existing companies and players. That is, the company is in no hurry with the name.

When asked about investments, Gerasimenko said that the business model of the new search engine does not imply the participation of investors.

It is planned that the system will operate independently. Since the market for the creative economy is growing strongly, there is no clear need to raise money.

Ahrefs has never attracted investment. For ten years the company already has the skill to earn and effectively spend its money.

It is known that Google also wanted to make profit-sharing with the search engine Neeva, but it was planned to use an “80 by 20” scheme.

There was information that they came to Ahrefs, wanted to cooperate, but the company refused them.

“There is not 80 to 20, there is 20 to 80. We talked with them. They wanted to collaborate with us, get access to our data. Since we are obviously moving towards competition, our collaboration did not work, - said Dmitry. - From an interesting point: it was after our conversation that they came up with the idea of ​​a profit-share. Prior to that, they were focused on the subscription search engine. It's nice that we were able to “sell” the profit-share idea to our competitors as well ”.

Search engine promotion

Dmitry said about the project promotion strategy: “If we pay content creators for their content, then it is profitable for them to talk about our search engine. It's like with Facebook: one friend invited another, and then, if you have all your friends on Facebook, you want to go there too. It is beneficial for creators that users read them through our search engine. It doesn't change anything for the user, but it changes a lot for the content creator. Although for the user this is the security of his data. Another thing that we groped in the process of working on the search engine: many media need to install a paywall. The media ask: subscribe to us, this is a conditional donation (donation) for our great content. "

Gerasimenko says that the best content is hidden from a wide audience, because the media really needs to make money. With the profit-sharing model, media that really work on some kind of in-depth research and investigation will be able to earn and provide cool information to a wider audience.

He claims that clickbait, affiliate (referral) links should go out of the Internet.
“Plus, premium content will go under paywall, because publishers close their task if they make money from content. At the same time, they have no need to hide it ”.

Gerasimenko concludes that in this case, as many readers as possible will have access to the best content through our search engine, because he has such a business model. This story can go off and change a lot of things.

What's the timeline?

The timing of the appearance of the product on the market is not specified. Gerasimenko noted that they will “release” a product that will be good enough.

The company has the opportunity not to run into any deadlines. When he sees that everything is working as it should, then there will be a release.

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