Search Engine Optimization is Dead! Long Live Answer Engines.

Hunch , a new site from the co-founder of Flickr, launched today

I haven't gotten this excited about a new "search engine" since 2004. Back then, Eurekster launched and I started a whole blog about it , in the style of the unofficial google blog .  Of course my irrational exuberance was unfounded, as Eurekster continues to limp along. Or maybe it's fairer to say that my expectations weren't in line with their aspirations. 

Either way, let's just say that I'm tempering my excitement for this new "search engine," by only writing a blog post about it, as opposed to creating a whole blog around it.

What is Hunch? 

If you've been watching TV lately, you'll notice that Microsoft has launched a new search engine called Bing. In the ads, they make fun of how search engines return a list of usually unrelated results whenever you're trying to get an answer to a question

Bing's innovation is that they guide you to [what was] farecast if you're doing a travel related search. 

But, compared to Hunch, Bing isn't even close to a decision making or "answer" engine. 

Hunch enables their users to work together to create sets of questions and answers. It also lets users create "topics" that are a series of questions that guide users to one of a handful of answers. 

In effect, they let the community create answers to complex questions. This is the innovation that is huge! 

Of course, like Eurekster, success of this services will depend upon whether a significant number of users start contributing to it. Then, it'll require a massive amount of people to start using it. But, I think Caterina Fake, Hunch's co-founder and co-founder of Flickr, probably has what it takes to make that happen. So, I'm giving this a big benefit of the doubt. 

How to Use Hunch to Help People Find You!

This morning, when I started playing with Hunch, I was initially not sure how this would benefit businesses. At first, they ask you to answer a bunch of questions about yourself to help teach the system about you. I told them a bunch of things about me that seemed very irrelevant to someone who'd want to market to me, especially if that company is a b2b company. 

But, I'm glad I went back and tried to understand it a bit better. When I did, I realized that there were ways to get complex questions answered, by answering a series of questions that the community has created and stringed together. I did a few searches and didn't see any questions that were already answered that I really wanted an answer to. So, I figured I'd try and teach the system. Once I started creating a "topic," "What Blogging Software Should I Use," the system informed me that there was one that was already similar. 

So, I started down the road of answering some questions so the system could tell me, " What should I use to create a blog?

Here's how I set up HubSpot, so that we might have a better chance of being found when someone wants to answer this question:

  1. I added HubSpot blogging software as an option including a description, an image and a link to the page on our site that explains our blogging software.
  2. I told the system how people would answer all the questions if they were a good fit for HubSpot software. For example, for the question, "Is this blog for personal or professional use?", I selected "professional" from the list of 3 options. 
  3. I was able to add questions like, "Do you care if your blog helps you attract more search engine traffic to your business domain?" and then selected the different answers that would apply to "yes" and which ones applied to "no".

Why SEO will Move Aside for DEO (Decision Engine Optimization)...

With Hunch (a decision making engine), it's possible to get actual answers to questions, instead of just a list of things that might be relevant. 

The rules of DEO are simple: 

  1. Be really good at what you do, so that other people will build you into their questions and answers.
  2. Make sure your solution is present when people are asking for a solution like yours.
  3. Create decision making guides that help your best prospects find you by feeding the system the right series of questions to ask to them.

What if Hunch Doesn't Ever Get as Big as Google?

Learning from my hype-making-mistakes, I'd like to temper this post a bit by saying, even if Hunch doesn't get huge, it's still a good SEO move to participate at Hunch. 

Why? Because Hunch is a site (just like, Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia,, Knol and Squidoo) that will show up in Google's search engine results pages more easily than your site --- especially for a challenging keyword. If you can't get your website to rank for a challenging keyword, you might as well try and be featured on the page that can.

As people create more and more "topics," Hunch will generate a lot of free search traffic from Google. The pages are automatically optimized as the site places the questions in the page title, url and some other important spots. I also expect the site to attract a lot of links naturally, as topics become really authoritative ways of finding good answers to tough questions that search engines just don't know YET! 

What Do You Think? Any Equally Bullish Predictions? 

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