Oparla: Getting paid to search

Wed 8 April 2009 09:01, Bas van den Beld

Oparla: Getting paid to search

Starting a new search engine these days is a difficult task. The main reason why most of them 'fail' is that getting the searchers away from the existing search engines is not easy, to say the least.

A UK-search engine which hasn't even officialy been launched yet tries to get the searchers by reaching for their pockets. Not to get money from them, but to give them money.

Oparla won't launch until April 14th but already registers users to enter and get a chance of winning £1,000. How can you win? By performing a search. When entering you enter a daily prize draw in which you can win prizes up to the mentioned £1,000.

Every time you search, you're account will be building up money and after a while that will be transferred to your account.

The move is smart because it will attract the first visitors to the site. But then you have to keep them there. Quality plays a big role in that.
The search engine uses Yahoo programming which guarantees some quality. We did a little test by searching for "Searchcowboys", "Dave Naylor" and for "Lisa Ditlefsen".

One thing that immediatly draws the attention is the default 'list view'. In this view the search results are presented in three columns: Title Summary and URL. This way more results can be shown in one page. It was surprising to see at first but then became actually pretty nice. The fact that you don't have to scroll through the results.

The results itself aren't that fantastic. Though you can find the most important pages back the search engine doesn't seem to know what to do with terms who might have multiple meanings. Searches for Dave Naylor and Lisa Ditlefsen only give back results about these two, but a search for "searchcowboys" gives back some pretty far fetched results. Why is a "Gay cowboy dating services" number four in the results for example? Also it seems the search engine might be focussing on the long tail since older articles sometimes show up before newer ones.


So though searches are good on names and company names there is some ground to be won on the search results part when it comes to interpretable searches. But the search engine offers more. Next to the list view you can also look as you're used to with the Classic View. And it also has an Image Search. This looks very nice. It seems as if first Flickr is being indexed and then the others. The image search is very nice.

So far the website has no ads. The search engine will want to place them though as they have an advertising page on which they tell us they will be selling ads the old fashioned way: through a monthly budget.

So why this search engine and why now? "There is no real UK search engine, and we wanted to build one and be a bit different," the company says. "We think now is a very good time to launch. And we are giving away free money."

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