People Search Engines: PeekYou vs. Spock
In the world of Internet search, there appears to be an ongoing shift away from traditional search engines like Google and Yahoo!, and a movement towards niche search engines like PeekYou and Spock. Although traditional search engines are excellent for finding a wide variety of information, they often provide a lot of information that has nothing to do with the type of search you’re conducting. For example, if you’re searching for a person on Google, they often present search results that list random pages and documents that are loosely related to the person you’re searching for — hardly ideal. This deficit is now being filled with new startups that are offering highly focused and targeted results for niche searches.
PeekYou and Spock are perfect examples of niche search engines. Both search engines focus on helping users quickly and accurately find people. Instead of having to filter through all of the extraneous data that other search engines provide, users of these sites get search results that are specific to the type of search they’re conducting — finding a person.
The two sites take somewhat different approaches to searching and presenting data. While Spock appears to emphasize general information about a person (especially celebrities), PeekYou’s approach seems a little more personal. For example, PeekYou focuses more on regular people and aggressively promotes their social-networking pages, photos or anything else they might have online.
Each site takes a different approach to searching for people. Whereas Spock has a single input box for their search, PeekYou provides an input box for First Name, Last Name, username and tags. Although I appreciate the simple search that Spock offers, I prefer the control that PeekYou’s search provides. Spock’s simple search has to guess what type of information you’re searching for, whereas PeekYou’s search allows you to be very specific about your search, by allowing you to only input a person’s first or last name along with with related tags. (To be fair, Spock does provide a more advanced search, but you have to click on the Advanced link — it doesn’t display by default.)
Overall, I found PeekYou’s people pages to be much more informative than Spock’s. My guess is that PeekYou has a much more robust and sophisticated system for gathering data. A good example can be found on pages about me. Neither page was created by myself — they were created automatically by
scraping scouring the Internet. My Spock page was incredibly sparse compared to my PeekYou page. Spock only listed my LinkedIn profile. However, PeekYou had correctly discovered my personal blog, my company blog, websites I own and run, all of my social networking sites (including MySpace, Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Virb, Last.fm, Twitter and LinkedIn), my Flickr account, press releases, and much more.
Ultimately, if I want to find people and also discover what they’re up to on the Internet, I’m going to go to PeekYou first, every time.