There is a slowly growing consensus that Google has taken its eye off the search ball, but it does still dominate the industry. Niche upstarts (like You.com, which I wrote about here) are different; just not different — or rich — enough to stake a challenge.
Maybe Huawei has a better shot?
Their Petal search engine is live now, so I gave it a whirl. (You can try the desktop version here and the mobile app is available in most countries now.)
It’s pretty similar to Google, in that it starts like this:
But then, things diverge.
I used my normal sample set of queries to try it out, starting with ‘cashmere jumper’.
Here’s what I found:
Petal’s on the left and you can see that it’s easier to digest than Google’s overwhelming, ad-saturated experience. I’ve tried to highlight the key differences in the image.
Petal has three results from the same domain in its top 5, which is something Google eradicated years ago.
Each search engine pulls results from very different websites, too.
The site Petal loves so much (Mahogany Cashmere) is nowhere on Google. And I do pretty much mean nowhere — it has an authority score of 49/100 on SEMrush (not good) and it gets about 500 clicks a month from Google. For reference, my personal website gets more than that and it’s not very popular.
Why does Petal show this site three times in its top five results?
Well it is a specialist cashmere site, so perhaps Huawei’s index gives priority to that exact-matching focus. Google has evolved to understand the subtleties contained within sites with huge varieties of products for sale.
And this is likely more to do with Petal’s “newness” than some ideological distinction…