Near is a new kind of search engine, one that seeks content in real time instead of indexing web pages that are quickly out-of-date. While it’s true that lots of content on the internet is static and doesn’t change a great deal, there are some pages and sites that are constantly in flux, and we want to be able to search them in real-time so that you get the most up-to-date information.
There are obviously lots of sites you can probably think of that change quickly – news, travel sites, video streaming sites – but we’re focusing on retail sites to start.
Though many parts of a retail site may be static, the pricing and inventory status of items they sell is quickly out of date. We index their site in much the same way a traditional search engine would, then at the moment you request a product, we re-visit the site to capture the most recent price and inventory. This means we don’t need to re-load and index the entire page – just the part that could have changed since the last time we looked at it. We call this re-visiting step Search 2.0 and we think it’s an exciting development in a field that’s been mostly unchanged for years.
The process to learn how to capture that data is largely manual at this point which is slowing our rollout, but we’re working to scale it more easily and develop webmaster tools so that retailers can add themselves to Near without our help.
With time and growth, we’ll be adding more types of sites to our search engine. As you can imagine, crawling and indexing the internet is a huge undertaking and though it’s in our business plan, it’s a long way away. Today and for the foreseeable future, Near is a shopping tool that connects you to products already for sale in your community, without the wait or expense of shipping from an e-commerce site. Give it a try and be amazed at what’s already available in your neighbourhood.