The search engine world is bigger than just Google. Bing has overseen some major improvements over the past several years, stealth competitors like DuckDuckGo are showing promising signs of growth, and other tech giants (including Apple and Facebook) have already stuck their toes in the water to test the limits of search engine development. Now, a new competitor may be entering the fray, and it’s a name we all recognize: Wikipedia.
To be fair, Wikipedia’s actually considered making a search engine for a long time now. It’s only recently that it formally announced and detailed its plans. The official news came from the Wikimedia (the official owner of Wikipedia) detailing a sizable grant from the Knight Foundation. The document describes a vision for a new search engine, called the Knowledge Engine, which is intended to “democratize the discovery of media, news and information.” This search engine will attempt to create a more unbiased, publicized bank of searchable information on the web—one that’s “completely free of commercial interests.”
(Image Source: Wikimedia)
In summary, the Knowledge Engine will strive to be a transparent creation designed to increase the availability of knowledge to all Internet users.
Understandably, the SEO and broader online community were abuzz with speculation and anticipation about what such a development would entail. The language of the letter appears critical of search engines like Bing and Google, which have clearly dominated and dictated search engine technology trends, including being influenced by the needs of advertisers. Accordingly, people rallied Wikipedia as “taking on” Google with a contemporary competitor.
However, this appears not to be the case. Wikimedia has responded to these speculations, saying their goal is not to build yet another “global crawler search engine,” nor is their goal to create what is essentially another Wikipedia. Instead, this project will be distinct from either of these goals.
In the world of tech giants, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Wikipedia are usually the first to come to mind. Of these, Wikipedia has held two distinctions thus far; first, it’s the only organization in this group to have not developed its own search engine. Second, it’s the only organization that’s not for profit. Wikipedia, seeing no non-profit search engines and having a core mission to provide the world with more information, is driven to bring more transparency, fewer monopolies, and more thorough provision of information to web users. This is in line with its mission statement: “…to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.”
Accordingly, there should be no mystery as to why Wikimedia is pursuing such a goal.
The Wikimedia community has talked about developing its own search engines for years, so the concept isn’t entirely new. The $250,000 grant is certainly helping to propel the idea forward, but there are a few other motivations for its timing:
How Could This Affect SEO?
Now let’s take a look at how this might affect your current SEO strategy, even though the release of the search engine is likely months or years away:
Personally, I’ll be interested to see how this new, publicly controlled, non-profit search engine develops. It’s striving to be a true game-changer, offering a system and a position that no other organization has attempted to date. It may fall flat, as Jimmy Wales’s for-profit project Wikia Search did back in 2004, it may skyrocket to popularity thanks to Wikipedia’s current user base, or it may fall somewhere in between.
(Image Source: Wikipedia)
Either way, it will influence how future search projects develop from here on out.