Two people who couldn’t find what they wanted on Google and were faced with a barrage of unwanted ads, decided to go it alone and come up with their own search engine in the UAE.
Google has its shortcomings, but it will be a challenge to steer people away from surfing on it, no matter what.
At first, like many early-stage startups, they were faced with rejection and perhaps mockery for attempting to best a great global tool that is part of our everyday lives, but now they turned thousands into believers and investments are coming in.
UAE-based local to global online search
Dubai-based global online search company meekd.com has raised its first round of seed funding for an undisclosed amount.
Officially launched on February 1, 2019, meekd.com is a search engine that ensures sponsored results and paid-content are not prioritized and not ranked above real organic search results..
The site currently handles more than 200,000 searches per day and plans to use the funds to hire staff and upgrade its IT infrastructure to cope with user growth.
A model that contradicts the likes of Google, meekd’s search engine algorithm considers user “votes” to rank web pages, meekd co-founder and CEO Muhannad AlDarrai explained, as reported by Entrepreneur.
The search engine has handled more than eight million searches so far and released a new set of features on August 1, 2020, according to the founder.
These include ‘Trending News’ that delivers “news cards”, which present stories collated from different news outlets for each trending topic and are updated every 15 minutes.
“For example, if the trending story right now is ‘US elections’, you will find articles written by CNN, Fox News, Gulf News, and others, covering this specific story in one news card,” he said.
“We are working on video results to be as relevant as possible to the user’s query now that we’ve figured out how to scrape data from these websites, which no search engine is currently doing.”
meekd also has plans to add ‘Weather’ and ‘Dictionary’ features in the coming months.
After self-funding for nearly 2 years, AlDarrai said he believes the funding ultimately came because of meekd’s visible and undeniable growth in search numbers.
meekd is now concentrating on creating and releasing more unique features and is aiming to hit 10 million searches per day.
“We are so grateful to Dubai Chamber and specifically to the Dubai Startup Hub team,” AlDarrai said.
Google maintains the lion’s share of the market. For example, in Saudi Arabia, Google has about 97% of the search market whereas Bing and Yahoo make up about 4% of the market. In Egypt, Google has even more of a market share at 97%.
In the UAE, the below graphs provided by the Media Lab show the importance of Google and other digital media related habits by consumers in 2020.
Google mishaps and data collection
The world-leading search engine Google makes hundreds of changes per year to its platform through thousands of updates that included more than 3,200 updates in 2018, a number that has increased each year for decades.
This has confused users, angered SEO professionals, and ultimately transformed the way nearly every human on Earth interacts with the Worldwide Web.
Like any technological entity, Google, too, endures glitches and bugs.
In early April 2019, Google had to fix a technical issue that caused pages to be deindexed.
Google also had to fix a bug that caused search results to not fully render for some people over a span of several days.
It’s no secret anymore that Google acquires and uses the personal data of its users regularly, and even leverages that data for its own profitable gain.
Google tracks us and every search we make. Now, to access proprietary search data compiled and owned by Google in Keyword Planner, marketers have to spend over a certain dollar threshold in advertising per month.
The world’s fourth-richest company in the world is compiling data to leverage its business, but it’s also withholding that data unless business partners spend a large amount of money regularly each month.
UAE search engines as directories
There are other search engines in the UAE, of course, but nothing like what Meekd is trying to do.
Index UAE is a manually cataloged directory scouring sites for relevant keywords working as a manually spidered search engine.
Unlike most other directories, dead links are regularly eliminated from its database.