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Thursday, November 2, 2006

Canton, NY's internet and communications services firm, Haenel Communication Technologies, has just released NorthCountrySearch.com, a new website specifically for searching web services found in the North Country region of Northern New York State.

After hearing of the release of a new feature from Google.com, the world's leading search engine, Haenel Communication Technologies immediately sensed an opportunity for their community, region-specific search. The new Google feature enables users to create their own custom search services based on a set of specific criteria. So HCT made it their own.

"Especially in a community like ours, where our local resources normally swim in a sea of national and global online competition, a search that is specific to a particular region could be a great boost to that region's web traffic," says Bill Haenel, Haenel Communication Technologies' principal.

Translation? Haenel offers an explanation.

"Let's say you were looking for a store that sells organic food. You might visit Google.com, then search for 'organic foods'. Your difficulty would be immediately obvious, as your search results would likely be in the millions. So then you might try to refine your search a little at a time until you finally found a resource locally. NorthCountrySearch.com fixes this problem by using Google only to search websites found in the North Country."

So how does NorthCountrySearch.com control which sites are listed in their results? Google's new custom search tool provides a means for limiting searches either by keyword or by website address. In the case of NorthCountrySearch.com, HCT has pre-programmed the Google results to only draw from websites that have been added to their index manually. In other words, if you want to be in it, you have to request that your site is included. Mr. Haenel says that at present, approximately 300 websites have been added to the index.

"While 300 websites may sound like a lot, compared to the number that are out there in the North Country, it's not a whole lot. So we're asking folks to let us know right away if they'd like to be in our index so we can add them for free.", says Haenel.

In addition to the general search results, NorthCountrySearch.com offers an inexpensive advertising opportunity for any business or individual who would like to be featured in the home page of the search engine. Categories for "Featured Listings" include Restaurants, Lodging, Business Services, Shopping and Entertainment. Mr. Haenel says they are happy to add other Featured Listings categories as they are requested.

Haenel goes on to say that the new NorthCountrySearch.com site was established and will be maintained by his company. Although they intend to support the site's upkeep through advertising sales, he says their main goal is to provide a service to the community.

"We've created this service at our own expense and are offering it for free to the world", says Haenel. "We kind of feel like our community needs this in order to stand out from the crowd and in order to help themselves. We'd like to sell some of the advertising space to offset the cost and to provide a higher level of service, but we also intend to run the site indefinitely, regardless of how much ad space we sell. Who knows, when folks begin to see the traffic it's receiving already, they might just stand in line to get in there."

NorthCountrySearch.com also enables users to refine their searches by community name. A list of possible community refinements appear at the top of the search results so after running a search, a user can click a community name and get a new list of results specific to sites which include that community name somewhere in their website content. Mr. Haenel says that for a small fee websites can also be specifically associated with community name refinements in order to improve their placement when users click these refinements.

While other community-related sites already exist in the North Country, Haenel says their services are focused on other purposes. He points out that Northcountrynow.com and Northcountrypublicradio.org are both good examples.

"I love both northcountrypublicradio.org and northcountrynow.com. I think they're both fantastic websites that serve the community extremely well. However, those services exist primarily for the purpose of informing the region of news and events. They're media sites. Northcountrysearch.com exists solely for the purpose of searching websites. We don't intend to provide news or weather, we just want to give the community a good way to find exactly what they're looking for. And we're doing it by using the most powerful search engine on the globe, Google."

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