I’m Feeling Lijit Today

Last week Lijit announced that they had raised a $3.3 million financing.  If you aren’t familiar with Lijit, it’s the search box on the top right of my blog.

Now that Google owns FeedBurner, I miss my friends there (ok – we still talk – a lot – but I still miss them.)  Think of Lijit as “my next investment like FeedBurner.”  While Lijit is a totally different service for publishers, the game plan and strategy is identical – provide as much value of publishers as humanly possible on the dimension of “network search.”  Our goal – replace the search function on all blogs with Lijit’s version.

When I first invested in FeedBurner, some of the FeedBack was “nice service for RSS Brad, but where’s the business?”  The business strategy was a simple one – provide huge direct benefit from publishers (to drive adoption on blogs) and then create an ad network around a new piece of inventory (in this case the RSS feed.)  FeedBurner did that brilliantly – today they have over 450,000 publishers and – as of this morning – now provide all of their services free to the publisher (including the previously charged for Stats PRO and MyBrand.)

Lijit is free to publishers.  It’s a trivial install – one click for TypePad and Blogger and a single line of Javascript for everyone else (except WordPress.com – maybe someday they let us in.)  If you are a blogger and haven’t tried it yet, try it and tell me how it goes.

While I expect plenty of people to say “network search? – what’s the big deal – I’ve already got Google search on my blog.”  If you fall into this category, think back to the distant past of 2005 when FeedBurner’s popularity started accelerating and see if you can remember if you were one of the people that said “RSS feeds – I don’t need any help managing that – I’ve already got one of my blog.” 

Typical blog search is crappy.  You end up with two common choices: whatever comes with the blog platform (yuck – pages only – and mediocre relevance algorithms) or Google search (better, but now you are a slave to pagerank and still limited to the pages on your site.)  In both cases, the search only works for the content on your blog – it doesn’t incorporate any of your other content (e.g. other blogs you publish, your bookmarks (e.g. Blink List, BlueDot, ClipMarks, del.icio.us, digg, Furl, Ma.gnolia, reddit, and Stumble Upon), you photos and videos (flickr and YouTube), your social networks (LinkedIn, Live Journal, MySpace, Twitter, MyBlogLog), or other RSS/OPML you manage or generate.  That’s “part 1” of the concept of the “network” (e.g. all of my stuff.)

Part 2 is your actual network.  Most blogs have a blogroll – that is a list of common blogs that the blogger reads or respects.  This is an easy place to start building a network.  Another would be the blogs a blogger reads (pretty easily available via an OPML reader that most RSS readers will export.)  Of course, once these bloggers become part of the Lijit network, Lijit will automagically connect all of their own content (“part 1”) up to the network which makes it even richer.  If you want to see some great stuff about my network, take a look at my Lijit User page.

It gets better, but I’ll save that for another post (and yeah – I realize I didn’t tell you the revenue model, but it’s a groovy one like FeedBurners.) For now, try it.  The current version of search lives on top of Google’s Custom Search engine, but there is some fancy magic search stuff coming (that you’ll get to alpha test on my blog.)

I was FeedBurner publisher #699.  I am Lijit publisher #31.  Three years after I started publishing my blog with FeedBurner they had 450,000 publishers and were acquired for a tidy sum.  Lijit’s publisher network is growing nicely – it’s up around 2,000 now and expanding at the same daily rate that FeedBurner was early on.  Help me help the growth curve continue!