I was driving around in the intense heat this afternoon with my husband, talking to him about the whole “Me first” concept. I was talking about how lately I’ve been using del.icio.us as a search engine more and more. It’s probably not suitable for all types of searches just yet, but are the links on delicious of a better quality and more relevant to me than, say, on Google?

Are relevant links being discovered faster by the massive del.icio.us user-base than search bots?
Are there less link-farms and unnaturally-rank-inflated sites on del.icio.us?

A (non-scientific sample of 1) example. I’m looking for some new fonts and search for “fonts”.

Google returns about 59,600,000 results.
del.icio.us returns 14,099 results.

More doesn’t necessarily mean better.

del.icio.us Top 10:

  1. http://www.goodfonts.org/
  2. http://typetester.maratz.com/
  3. http://www.alvit.de/blog/article/20-best-license-free-official-fonts
  4. http://fontleech.com/
  5. http://www.webpagepublicity.com/free-fonts.html
  6. http://www.dafont.com/en/
  7. http://www.typenow.net/themed.htm
  8. http://www.graphicsngraphicdesign.com/hugelistfreefontssites
  9. http://simplythebest.net/fonts/index.html
  10. http://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

Google’s Top 10:

  1. http://www.1001freefonts.com/
  2. http://www.fonts.com/
  3. http://www.acidfonts.com/
  4. http://www.larabiefonts.com/
  5. http://www.1001fonts.com/
  6. http://www.abstractfonts.com/
  7. http://www.dafont.com/
  8. http://www.fontfreak.com/
  9. http://www.myfonts.com/
  10. http://www.free-fonts.com/

So, using different criteria, we end up with quite different lists, dafont and myfonts appearing on each (although people on delicious prefer the myfonts.com “What the font” feature more than the home page).

Which is the better list? I guess we could argue that it’s subjective but on the other hand I suppose billions have been spent on finding the “best” listing. And millions of people aren’t using Google primarily because of its nice simple design, right?

At a really simple level, Google ranks sites based on the number of other sites which link up to them and weighted according to who is doing the linking.

But the point I’ve been wondering about is the difference between a link and a bookmark.

On my blog I could link up to a tonne of different webpages I find interesting for one reason or another. But I might not go back to that site, I might not need to remember that site’s URL for future reference.

A bookmark, however, implies more value than a link. I’ve already visited it once and it’s something I want to go back to in the future.

I think social bookmarking could be a central part of future algorithms of successful search engines.

Seekum is already heading along this path:

Seekum gets web pages from Yahoo web search, social bookmarking services, and pages that our users submit to us. Seekum then finds pages with related content into search results for a page based on keyword analysis, tags, and link analysis.

Seekum allows its users to sort through and find the best results for a given query. WeRank allows all of the good results to lift to the top, and the bad results to be lost into oblivion. The users have the last word on what’s relevant.

Have you been finding del.icio.us to be a useful search engine? Do you know of any other search engines exploring this area?

Update: Can’t wait to see Magnolia – “found is the new search” launch!

Update 2: Seth Godin’s thoughts resonate with my post too.