October 13, 2022

Two New Search Engines Target Gen Z (and E-A-T)

man using laptop at Google.com

It’s no secret TikTok has become a search engine in its own right, especially for Gen Z (currently ages ~11-26). But is there room for any more new traditional-style search engines? You.com and Yep.com are hoping to take a piece of Google and TikTok’s pie, especially when it comes to this demographic.

Even though they’re unlikely to take much from Google’s >90% market share, it’s important to pay attention to these alternatives, because they serve as windows into what users value and need – and what Google and TikTok may be lacking. So what do You.com and Yep.com value? Let’s dive in.

You.com (“the search engine YOU control”) summarizes its key benefits as “your time, your sources, and your privacy.” The multidimensional interface allows users to customize their search results by pre-selecting sources and authors they trust. Preferred sources can be added while searching or selected by “thumbing up or thumbing down” sources. Results from preferred sources will be shown first, followed by sources with no preference, and ending with sources users prefer less. You.com ensures users are being served content from sources they trust – and does so in a personalized way without compromising user privacy.

(It’s worth discussing whether this mimics the deleterious echo-chamber effect so often seen with social media, where users only encounter information that already fits with their point of view – and whether Gen-Z users are savvy enough to not want this.)

Unlike Google and TikTok, You.com’s unique interface allows users to see results horizontally and vertically, touting the ability to “discover more in less time” – a deliberate move, considering the shrinking length of much popular content. The ad-free platform gives users a sense of transparency, without the feeling of being unknowingly influenced by paid advertisements.

You.com was founded by two former Salesforce employees and funded by the company’s founder.

Yep.com is a private search engine that directly pays content creators 90% of the platform’s advertising revenue, “putting money back into the pockets of your favorite content creators.” The first-of-its-kind search engine rewards influencers and publishers for informative content.

Created by the founders of leading SEO tool Ahrefs, Yep.com’s unique revenue-sharing model provides an ideal place for the 45% of Gen-Z creators that aspire to make money from sharing content. Yep.com posits that “perhaps 80% of the highest quality content isn’t getting created right now.” The hope is that individuals with expertise will be incentivized to create content that users will find useful.

While You.com and Yep.com differ from Google (and TikTok) in many ways, in some ways they follow suit. They exemplify Google’s effort to pursue expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E-A-T). Their strategies don’t just target Gen Z, they target true user needs: getting credible content from trusted sources. This is, of course, especially important in verticals like health.

Although it’s unlikely these new search engines will affect Google’s market share, they’re worth watching, and they remind us that E-A-T is what search users are after, especially Gen Z.

Will YOU be saying YEP to either of these search engines?