Surprising as it may seem, Google isn’t always the right search engine for the job. Because Google’s goal is to index the entire Web, a simple query like “yarn” can (and does) return over 100 million results. Without further specification, Google’s results are more about quantity than they are quality.
Panjiva, a B2B search company that aims to make it easier for businesses to find and contact suppliers – like, say, a yarn manufacturer – is today announcing its Global Search product, a search engine that caters to Panjiva’s specific niche. Users are able to find suppliers and see how many shipments they made into the US last year, product images, and the business’s contact information.
Global Search was developed in response to Panjiva users’ existing workflows. “If we asked [customers] what they would do with [Panjiva],” CEO Josh Green says, “they often said ‘I’ll find some companies that are potentially interesting on Panjiva, and then I’ll go to the Web to find more information on companies that I had found.’” Rather than making their customers play this two-search engine shuffle, Panjiva decided to develop a search engine powerful enough to keep users on the platform.
Green says that in order to build Global Search, Panjiva had to look at its existing database based on shipping information that the US government makes available and figure out what to build from there. Panjiva originally made this data easier to search and provided objective, by-the-numbers information to its users but not much else.
Now, 7 million Web pages across 400,000 domain names later, Global Search is ready for the prime time. The tool still displays shipping data, but crawling the Web for information has also provided Panjiva with product images and contact information, two categories that customers used to have to turn to Google for. Rather than being a tool for helping businesses figure out what they should be searching for on Google, Panjiva’s Global Search has turned the service into a one-stop shop for supplier data.
Of course, this is all predicated on Green’s belief that companies provide the best information about their own products, or the most accurate images. Though this may be more true in the business world than the consumer market, “best” doesn’t always mean “most truthful.” Apple didn’t provide images of the iPhone 4 with a shattered back – what’s to say that X yarn supplier is going to admit its flaws? Google can catch this information because it searches the entire Web instead of just the company’s own website. Panjiva can’t.
This narrowing in scope is both Panjiva’s blessing and its curse. Companies that simply want to find a supplier as quickly as possible and get their contact information will appreciate the fact that Panjiva has all of that information – and nothing else – one search query away. Anyone that wants to find more information not provided by the supplier itself, however, will have to continue to dance the Google shuffle.