Memes are Buzzfeed’s business–the New York company tracks the Internet’s celebrity obsessions, favored news items and inside jokes in real time, similar to a Digg or a Reddit.
But Buzzfeed is trying to position itself as an aggregator for all the mememakers and memewatchers on the Internet. The company announced a “pop culture search engine” today to that end.
The search engine prioritizes results with the most traffic on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. Social traffic is an “ungameable” criterion, the company says–a dig at Digg, where power users could for a long time manipulate rankings, and at Google, where an entire field of search engine marketing professionals has arisen to game rankings.
Memes don’t always surface in search results, especially when they’re fresh. This is especially true for generically-named memes. If you Google “honey badger,” trying to find the National Geographic video of the animal dubbed over by a sarcastic narrator, you’ll get the original NatGeo video and a Wikipedia entry as the top results. Boring. Search on Buzzfeed to get the meme and its variations.
Buzzfeed’s search is “a search engine for what is hot right now.” Buzzfeed acts as a platform for brands to launch hopefully-viral campaigns, so controlling a real-time search engine for viral content would hugely benefit its clients. The search engine launched with partner publishers including Huffington Post, Aol, Cracked and CollegeHumor, and plans to add more sources to the results.
Twitter’s real-time search and sites like Urlesque have been filling the meme-finding void and Google has been integrating social traffic into its results more and more, so Buzzfeed has some competition in cataloguing memes.
Buzzfeed says 160 million unique visitors come through each month. Quantcast puts the site’s readership at about 400,000 unique visitors a month day.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries