Vietnamese search engines: late comers that don’t win

Rick and I have gone to great lengths to discuss local search engines such as Xalo.vn. I guess it’s time we shared what we think about SEs. Before it’s too late.

Linguistics

It’s easy to realize that in order to fight the big boys like Yahoo and Google in Vietnam, you have to speak the local language. Xalo, therefore, concentrates on its language ability and tries to present users with the most relevant results in Vietnamese. While this can be considered an advantage, it’s hard to verify whether these SE can actually surpass Google. Has anyone tested this out?

Index-ability

Xalo.vn also features seaches in English. But before talking about that, we need to understand that for any local search engines to win locally, they have to “cover” the entire Web space in Vietnam. This means they are able to index more Vietnamese sites than foreign competitors. It’s not an easy job. Because it requires a lot of horse power from the servers. And thus, the end-result is boilt down to technology. No-one does this indexing better than Google. They have a very sophisticated, and effective indexing system that is comprised of crappy servers. Tough fight.

And evolutions are user-driven. Certainly users don’t come to Xalo.vn for only Vietnamese queries. They want an all-in-one solution. That creates another problem. Local SEs have to cover the entire Web as far as possible. Mission impossible.

It looks like a doomed failure.

Critical as we may seem, there’re good things that, if overlooked, can undermine potentials. Let’s assume that Xalo.vn’s failed to capture the Vietnamese market with its main search engine, the question is what else they can do, and do better than others.

Blog Search

I’ll tell you what. Xalo.vn Blog Search is indeed far superior to Google in Vietnam. It does index a lot of blog entries from Y!360. In fact, results from Google Blog Search for Vietnam suck, for most of them come from news and forum threads. Xalo.vn gets it right.

Forum Search

Search results come from local forums. IMHO Xalo forum search also achieves the same relevancy as that of its Blog Search.

These two lesser used tools are pretty cool. It’s the ways we can monitor what people are talking about things on two of the most popular social platforms in Vietnam. Indeed, most Vietnamese identify their Identity 2.0 with Y!360 and Forums.

I might as well think that Xalo.vn should put Blog and Forum search as their flagship services and try to improve them instead of turning themselves into a portal that makes no sense whatsoever.

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6 Responses to Vietnamese search engines: late comers that don’t win

  1. ePi.Longo says:

    Good article. So, the hardest question here is if we are on Xalo's board, what will we do?

  2. anhhung says:

    I proposed my suggestion already. Regarding News and Music search, I think Xalo.vn is nowhere near Baomoi and Zing Mp3 :-)

  3. ePi.Longo says:

    Yep, in fact I think I have the same idea with you for Xalo.vn (http://buzz.tl/2008/12/10/xalovn-caravat-va-nh%…) in “they have to “cover” the entire Web space in Vietnam.” aspect but doubt bout the market of Blog & Forum.

  4. TaiTran says:

    Zing MP3 is mainly a hosting and streaming service. I don't think it should be categorized as Music Search.

    Baamboo MP3 is the Music Search one.

  5. TaiTran says:

    Nice experiment with Xalo's vertical search.

  6. Tuan Nguyen says:

    I would say that focusing on the blog search and forum search is not a good idea neither since both yahoo and google are working hard on the vertical and customized search. One can easily create a customized search for vietnamese blog with google search api by compiling a list of the blog sites and and query by the vietnamese language criteria. It will give you the xalo's blog search.

    If you try to convince me that xalo index a handful of Y!360 blog, just go to google and search for “site:360.yhaoo.com + your keywords” . I bet that will give better results than xalo.

    I think the only way beat google in the local or vertical market is to index more the invisible web, focus on the ranking algorithm, eliminate the spam sites and of course the web semantic.

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