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Zibb Plans For B2B Success

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General purpose search sites serve individuals well, and the whole concept of effective search has done more than any other software approach to make the World Wide Web more useful to people. Businesses need a little more than they can get from the biggest Internet search names.

The real success in business comes from selling to other businesses instead of just individuals, and catering to that B2B market need with a dedicated search service could be a big winner for Reed Business. CEO Stephen Baker, who joined the company in October 2006, told us why Zibb would do for business-to-business what the trinity of Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft do not.

To satisfy the needs of B2B, Baker told us that they have to focus on the daily needs of their visitors. Researchers and browsers want to have more information about products. Purchasers want to pull the trigger on a deal; when they find what they want for a satisfactory price, they can fulfill the commercial need.

“Sixty-four percent of searchers look for B2B listings,” Baker said, citing Outsell Research on the topic. “99 percent of them go to Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft; about a third of them walk away unfulfilled.”

That’s a sizable chunk of the marketplace bouncing around for answers. The lack of satisfaction comes from a failure to disambiguate the search results those three present to the visitor, Baker contends. (We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Ask here as an example of general search that does a lot of disambiguation to help people find information.)

Baker thinks Zibb can be the premier search site for B2B. They crawl the web and look over four to five billion documents a month. The non-B2B stuff gets tossed, and Baker said this leaves them with a clean index of 200 million documents.

Once they find this information, it get assigned within the 26 industries Zibb tracks. From their they build taxonomies around the data, and organize the content so searchers can find it better.

I asked if they planned to make geographical options for filtering available, and Baker said it is on the roadmap. We are in a global economy, but a given search may have a need to find something in a particular country, regulatory requirements for example.

Making Zibb better has involved more granular fixes to it. Improving their ability to crawl B2B resource well, and categorizing content appropriately, have been a couple of successful updates at the search engine.

One feature that the smart B2B customers should be using, RSS feeds, can be found when generating results in Zibb. For someone who regularly needs the information a well-crafted query can bring, it’s hard to think of a logical reason not to track that through a feed.

Zibb has something on its pages that I was surprised to see when I first reviewed Zibb, and that was Google ads. The Reed empire includes plenty of capable ad sales talent, but here they were turning to Google.

“Google has been very effective at monetizing the userbase,” Baker said. He did hold forth the possibility of using display ads on Zibb in the future.

An editorial tool in development has Baker very excited about Zibb’s future. He described it as being similar to the Swickis created with Eurekster.

Zibb technology has found its way to other sites beyond B2B. Visit Variety, the entertainment publication. See who powers the search box? This is Zibb On Demand at work. It also demonstrates the benefit of having the Reed Elsevier publication powerhouse behind Zibb.

There is a technology side coming to the Zibb engine, giving it a natural language boost. That comes from Teragram, which will be working with Zibb for the next year.

Teragram has been doing linguistics software work since 1997. They can relate content to topics and make the disambiguated approach to finding information more effective. Dr. Yves Schabes, Teragram’s co-founder, told us it usually takes a couple of months of work to get the metadata assigned.

We’ve seen Teragram in use already at some significant news sites: AP, CNN, the New York Times. It will be used in hundreds of Reed properties beyond Zibb. We feel that Zibb is the site to watch, particularly for SEO professionals.

A strong push from Reed over time, coupled with the Outsell assessment Baker cited, and Zibb just may be the next big thing in search. When it comes to B2B, the profit potential can’t be ignored.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Zibb Plans For B2B Success
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