News & Updates

Smaller Players Can Beat Google

By Alexis / May 25, 2014

Google is a giant, but it’s a general-purpose giant. Several companies –including AppHelp– are providing better targeted results by developing vertical semantic search engines.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. And to date, it’s been a success. Over the years Google has killed off most of its competitors. Sure, there’s Ask, DuckDuckGo, Blekko and a handful of others, but I can’t imagine how they would ever overtake Google.

However, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, I think it’s still possible to compete and win against Google. In fact, many companies are already doing it. You just have to look at the market from a different point of view.

A 2013 study by Incapsula found that over 61% of web traffic is generated by bots. These include a large number of crawlers that endlessly surf the web, at an ever quicker pace.

Why such a big spike? Because more and more online services are borrowing Google’s mission: organizing the world’s information to make it more accessible and useful. One may think that web search innovation had ended outside of Google. In reality, there’s a growing number of successful web search engines out there.


Here are just two examples of consumer services who don’t call themselves search engines, but are exactly that.

TripAdvisor is a search engine that indexes multiple different sources of information. Just like Yelp, web isn’t its only source of data. Its algorithms rely a lot on users comments, which are ranked according to their quality, quantity and recency.

WebMD organizes medical knowledge from the web and applies a heavy dose of expert curation to make sure the content is accurate. Its ranking algorithms take into account semantics of the medical field such as relationships between symptoms and diseases.


In the current state of the tech support industry, professional agents only manage to resolve less than half of their customers’ issues. This massive inefficiency stems from lack of instant access to comprehensive knowledge.

To access more knowledge and solve more problems, support agents routinely use Google along with their internal knowledge base. However, Google results are neither validated nor ranked based on the very specific needs of tech support agents.

Being a general-purpose search engine, Google does not fully understand the semantics of a tech support problem. And just like in travel, health or e-commerce, understanding of semantics and context is essential to effective search.


AppHelp’s mission is to make tech support awesome. That’s why we built Reveal. Its concept is very simple: it helps agents find the best solutions from across the web and share them with other agents across the tech support community. Every time they perform a Google search, the Reveal browser extension displays the most useful solutions found by their colleagues.

Reveal is AppHelp’s first product that incorporates a search engine, but it won’t be the last. We’re just getting started. And in the process of building the search engine for tech support we tackle challenges that are similar to those seen in other verticals.

Google does not fully understand the specific semantics of tech support.

With Reveal, we’re successfully competing against general-purpose search in the same way TripAdvisor or WebMD are doing it. We didn’t build another general-purpose search engine; we built a vertical semantic search engine. The better engines understand the specific search needs of various users, the better chance they have to beat Google.

Want to try Reveal? Request a free invitation to our Beta program here.