Ahrefs Launches its New Privacy-Focused, Profit-Sharing Search Engine: Yep

Paste in: Author: Nick Oropall, Director of Platform Product Marketing
Blog Date: June 2022

In 2019, Ahrefs CEO, Dmytro Gerasymenko, announced via Twitter that the company was working on a general purpose search engine to compete with Google. "Sounds crazy, right?" he said.

To many, that did sound crazy. A number of Google competitors have come and gone, but Dmytro has a mission centered around two huge problems he claims Google will never want to fix.

Those two problems are privacy and profit sharing.

Nearly every Google competitor has discussed privacy. There are a ton of benefits that Google gets from collecting data, and in turn is able to pass on a more advanced, personalized experience for the end user. Yet, many consumers are becoming weary of the sheer amount of data being captured, and what it is being used for.

The second problem described by Dmytro is profit sharing. The basis is that a TON of the content shown on Google does not require a user to click at all. This creates a great experience for the end user, as they can stay on one page, but the content creator probably does not get a click, or drive any traffic to their website.

Ahrefs' proposed solution to these problems is Yep, their brand new privacy-focused, profit-sharing search engine. Yep is based on natural language and uses many of the same ML advancements such as BERT, but there are a few key differences based on the problems with major search engines that Dmytro identified.

From a privacy perspective, by default Yep collects the minimum amount of data to provide a search experience. They still collect some data to improve searches but none of it is personal data (like location or age) and none of it is stored in a personally identifiable way.

"In other words, we do save certain data on searches, but never in a personally identifiable way," said Ahrefs CEO Dmytro Gerasymenko. "For example, we will track how many times a word is searched for and the position of the link getting the most clicks. But we won't create your profile for targeted advertising."

When a search is run, Yep uses a searcher's:

  • Keywords queried
  • Language preference received from the browser
  • Approximate geographical area at the origin of the search at the scale of a region or a city (deduced from the IP address)

From a profit sharing perspective Yep follows a 90/10 model that turns the traditional search engine model on its head and gives 90% of its ad revenue to content creators. Ahrefs believes if they are surfacing your content on their search engine, that content creator should receive a portion of their ad revenue.

In a Search Engine Journal interview with Dmytro, he went through the thought exercise of what Wikipedia could/should be worth to Google as part of the 90/10 profit sharing model. Wikipedia is one of, if not the largest contributor to Google's featured snippets. If they received 5% of Google's $150B+ annual search revenue, they would be pulling in $6.75B per year to continue producing great content. The key is that they would receive that share of the profit even if no one clicked on a single featured snippet.

Overall, Ahrefs knows that building an amazing search experience with a huge audience doesn't happen overnight, but as more and more content creators take advantage of their model, more searchers will come, and the flywheel will continue.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to watching as the search experience continues to grow and improve on yep.com.

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