For all those information seekers who have been frustrated with the imprecision, incompleteness, and other inadequacies of general Web search engines, there is now a complementary resource that can ferret out valuable collections of data and searchable sources that the search engines miss. IntelliSeek, Inc. has launched a new site, InvisibleWeb.com (http://www.invisibleweb.com), which provides a gateway to Web sources that contain information that is "invisible" to today's search engines. This content is invisible because the proprietary database formats of the sources do not allow the search engines to crawl or index them. Specific sources contained in InvisibleWeb.com include archives, databases, catalogs, guides, directories, dictionaries, and knowledge bases.
"This is all about users being able to stop searching through useless information and to start finding answers to their questions," said Mahendra Vora, IntelliSeek's president and CEO. "We believe that this resource sets the standard for Internet searching and demonstrates our commitment to providing intelligent ways to get Internet information."
Development of InvisibleWeb.com began in 1997 when IntelliSeek started creating its BullsEye software product line, which, among other features, searches invisible Web content. Through this development process, IntelliSeek cataloged a tremendous number of databases and searchable sources; these became the basis for InvisibleWeb.com.
IntelliSeek uses a unique process that combines automated intelligent agent search technology with human experts to build the InvisibleWeb.com content. The sources are automatically detected and monitored using this proprietary technology and are then professionally reviewed, described, and categorized by editors, who are each specialized in certain fields. They do not seek permission from the other sites to link to them. The sources are primarily free Web databases, though some require user registration, some are password protected, and only a few charge small fees. Databases on the Web from the commercial online services are not included.
The InvisibleWeb.com catalog of sources has grown quickly. In June 1999, the site searched 7,400 sources. The site currently searches more than 10,600 sources in 800 categories and has nearly 2,000 embedded search forms with a unique user interface. A company spokesperson said IntelliSeek aims to reach 20,000 within the next 6 months. Sources are regularly reviewed and InvisibleWeb.com is updated as often as necessary. Users are also encouraged to suggest additional resources for inclusion.
InvisibleWeb.com was licensed to Lycos this past June and is seamlessly integrated into the Lycos.com site, but not the other Lycos-owned sites such as HotBot. IntelliSeek continues to provide the continuously updated catalog of sources to Lycos in an ongoing relationship. The company is not trying to compete with the big search engines, but says it is providing a complementary service.
IntelliSeek is in the process of signing many other strategic partnerships to syndicate or cobrand this highly targeted content. Some agreements will involve the entire InvisibleWeb.com catalog, and others will be for smaller vertical slices of the content. Some announcements should be forthcoming fairly soon. The arrangement usually involves a cut of the partner's advertising revenue for IntelliSeek. A company representative said that IntelliSeek currently does not receive payment for steering users to other sites included in the InvisibleWeb.com catalog of sources. Company revenues come from advertising on its site, licensing deals, and sales of the BullsEye products.
The company estimates that well over 100,000 copies of BullsEye are in use. The BullsEye products integrate key search, management, analysis, reporting, tracking, and automated alerts into a single software application that is loaded on the client's PC. BullsEye can target users' searches to over 450 search sources (over 400 from InvisibleWeb.com) in a single query. Users can analyze the search results for accuracy, save searches for off-line search refinements and off-line browsing, generate comprehensive reports, and share them via e-mail. With BullsEye Pro, users can fully automate search tracking and Web site monitoring.
In contrast to BullsEye, InvisibleWeb.com merely points users to targeted search sources and does not offer a single query interface, nor does it offer the analysis, information management, and automated tracking features. BullsEye has been positively reviewed in the media and is well targeted for research applications and competitive intelligence tracking. A major announcement concerning BullsEye is expected before the end of the year.
Future developments for InvisibleWeb.com include the addition of personalization capabilities, expanded keywords, and more integrated search forms, so that a user will not have to leave the InvisibleWeb.com site for a search.
Gary Price, Webmaster at George Washington University, considers InvisibleWeb.com to be a great product, one that complements his own work to provide access to "invisible" Web content. He calls his Direct Search page (http://gwis2.circ.gwu.edu/~gprice/direct.htm) the "little hamburger shop on the corner," while InvisibleWeb.com is the equivalent of McDonald's. Direct Search is much smaller (with about 1,700 sources and no keyword searching) and is more academic and scholarly in its focus, including searchable bibliographies and esoteric material, while InvisibleWeb.com is more consumer and commercially oriented, including shopping catalogs, stores, auctions, and genealogy.
There are also some other efforts to identify databases, such as WebData.com created by ExperTelligence, an Internet consulting and software company. Price feels that all these efforts are good and complement each other, and—best of all—focus attention on the problems of general search engines and the existence of hidden databases of information. The bottom line is that it's better to locate and then search an on-target database than to flounder around using a general search engine.
IntelliSeek, Inc., founded in 1997, is a privately held company with headquarters in Cincinnati. It currently has about 40 employees, with eight of these now on the InvisibleWeb.com team. According to the company, there are "no plans for an IPO in the immediate future."
For more information on IntelliSeek, visit http://www.intelliseek.com or call 513/772-6900.