Eurekster raises $5.5M for custom search engine

Eurekster, a San Francisco company that tailors search engines for bloggers and other publishers to put on their sites, has raised $5.5 million in a second round of financing.

Eurekster’s search engines are more social than Google’s, because Eurekster lets the site publishers limit the sources Eurekster’s engine scans while searching. Many publishers want their readers to be able to do a topical based search, removing the non-relevant clutter that may find its way into Google results. A gardening Web site, for example, may want a search engine that scans only gardening-related sites — to better serve its readers.

Google has offered publishers a similar product recently, letting publishers limit the index that Google searches. However, Eurekster is still more flexible, says chief executive Steven Marder, because it lets you select RSS feeds to search from as well (Google doesn’t). Eurekster has other ways it customizes. Eurekster’s site-specific engines, called Swickis (a word that plays on the cross between search and wikis), give readers of a site the ability to give a thumbs up to a particular result, for example. This pushes the result up in the rankings of future searches. A thumbs down pushes the result down. Eurekster tracks clicks and other patterns of users as they use the search engine — all in an effort to improve it.

Eurekster relies on Yahoo and Ask technology, among others, to power its search. Eurekster negotiates a revenue split on advertising with those search engines. Eurekster then gives a portion of its cut to the publisher it serves.

Eurekster raised a $1.35 million angel round in late 2004. The latest round was led by Technology Venture Partners (TVP) of Australia and Transcosmos Investments of Japan, and included individual investors who provided the seed capital.

Eurekster says it serves more than 18,000 publishers, totaling 50,000 Swickis worldwide. It is already making millions of dollars a year, Marder says.