Meet MillionShort: The Google Hack That Could Be The Antidote To Search Engine Spam

4th May 2012

Recently I tried to do a Google search for a wine to pair with swordfish, and it was pretty much a disaster (first world problems, I know, but still.) The problem is, web search results for certain topics are just overloaded with dummy websites with little to no valuable content, many of which have utilized “search engine optimization” (SEO) tactics. Of course, search engines work overtime to stay one step ahead of the SEO spammers, but sometimes the bad guys just win out.

There’s also the issue of discovering new content. Say you’re looking for a new recipe for a dish you’ve made lots of times before. The top 20 search results are going to be from very popular food sites, of recipes you’ve probably already seen What if you want something fresh?

That’s what a neat hack called MillionShort aims to help with. The website is a search engine that lets you remove the top million (or 100,000, or 10,000, or whatever) hits from the results list. It’s a lot like pruning a plant, or skimming the film off the top of a stew: MillionShort lets you remove the old or non-useful stuff from traditional web search to find new or interesting content.

Results for “ratatouille recipe” search (click to enlarge)

The website, which is apparently built on top of Google search (we’ve reached out for an interview and more details and will update this post when we hear back), describes itself like this:

“We thought might be somewhat interesting to see what we’d find if we just removed an entire slice of the web.

The thinking was the same popular sites (we’re not saying popular equals irrelevant) show up again and again, Million Short makes it easy to discover sites that just don’t make it to the top of the search engine results for whatever reason (poor SEO, new site, small marketing budget, competitive keyword(s) etc.). Most people don’t look beyond page 1 when doing a search and now they don’t have to.”

Technically it seems pretty basic, but the idea is pretty powerful. The community at developer-centric news aggregator and discussion site HackerNews has had a pretty big response to MillionShort: Thepost about the site has garnered nearly 200 comments in less than 24 hours. As one commenter, jaems33, noted: “It reminds me of why I first moved to Google from Yahoo/Webcrawler/Altavista/etc in the first place.”

Social search and dedicated apps may be great and all, but it seems there is still an appetite for discovering fresh new things from the world wide web at large. If the search powers-that-be stop focusing on that, it’s good to see that there are still enterprising developers keen to hack out their own solutions to the problem.