Google. Pakistan. Rings a bell? No, this is not about the country's Telecommunications Agency (PTA) keeping an eye on Google, Bing, YouTube and other websites for blasphemous content. This is about a brand new search engine that will launch on July 1st, all dedicated to Pakistan in terms of content. The trick? It's been created by a 16 year old, with the business "insight" from his 19 year-old brother. I kid you not.
Muqeet Qadir, 16, and his brother, Moiz Qadir, 19, have big plans for the future. They will be rolling out what they conceived as a Pakistani audience-dedicated search engine, called PKSearch. They have contacted us through our site and we spoke to them earlier today. Based in Karachi, they have developed together the search engine. Muqeet is the creator and creative mind, while Moiz is the business-oriented associate.
They have provided us with a beta version to test out. So here's what the top of the page looks like: it has "skins", i.e. a panoramic picture atop the page. For the moment, one has the choice of five such pictures.
Here's what the bottom of the page looks like: it includes recent tweets on and from Pakistan and there's a last searches column, side by side with an up-to-now empty "partners" column.
Speaking about their algorithm, they said their search engine works "on weights basis so it all depends on on-site SEO." Let's see.
First, a broad search, "restaurant." The search yielded 2390 entries, restaurants but also restaurant jobs, delivery services, hotel-restaurants, etc. I flicked through them and it seems that all results are exclusively from Pakistani websites, so it is über local indeed. However, a lot of results came from the same two web sites, paktive.com and hotspots.pk, which both provide places of interest in Pakistan. Here's the top of the SERP:
Comparing that to Google's results for "restaurant Pakistan," the interest of PKSearch for local use immediately springs to mind: the query yields 6.3 million entries but it mainly displays restaurant and reviews about places in Pakistan but from foreign sources, including a lot of travel sites.
The same goes for Bing, identical search terms and over 26 million results, mostly from sources based outside the country.
Same story for Yahoo Search (although now it's supposed to be integrated to Bing): over 71 million entries, mostly from outside sources.
Search In Urdu
The Qadir brothers said their intention is to eventually compete with the two main engines but for the time being, they are busy making sure PKSearch works perfectly. Already, they have made it possible to search in Urdu. You can take a look at the SERP for " پاکستان" ("Pakistan" in Urdu) on PKSearch, Google, and Bing. If any of you read Urdu, we'd love your feedback on that one.
What Does The Future Look Like?
Muqeet and Moiz also have in store search suggestions like Google or Bing. This feature will be available later on, they said. Moiz, who was speaking on behalf of Muqeet, said they intend fuel the development of PKSearch through an advertising platform, called Globeads. Globeads was also developed by Muqeet 8 months ago and funded by an outside investor from India. Once PKSearch is rolled out, they intend to integrate Globeads into the platform. They did not provide specific projections or figures for the development of both tools but said they relied on local ads to raise awareness to the existence of their product. You can join their Facebook page if you think they have something good there.
Asked whether they would consider a deal with majors such as Google or Bing to scale up operations quickly, their answer was clearly "NO." Good luck to those guys. They mean business and the idea is good, local search is the future. As they told us, "other countries ...have their own search engines... look at Baidu (China mainly and Japan), Guruji (India), Yandex (Russia)." Right on.