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eBay Reworks Search Engine

Cassini will 'understand' search terms, official says.

eBay developers are working on a new search engine that is meant to give buyers search results that are better suited to them.

The search engine, called Cassini, is expected to be released in 2013, according to news reports. Cassini would replace eBay’s current search technology, Voyager, which reportedly only looks at listing titles to return search results.

Cassini will analyze entire product descriptions to find better quality search results for buyers, eBay says, adding that it will also take into account past purchases shoppers have made.

This “machine-learned ranking” was described in 2010 by Hugh Williams, vice president of Search Engineering at eBay and the head of the Cassini project. It will help Cassini know if a buyer who enters HP means horsepower or Hewlett-Packard, Williams tells reporters.

“Cassini will take the user’s query and understand it,” he says.

Voyager is reportedly more than 10 years old, and was in need of a facelift, adds Mark Carges, eBay’s chief technology officer and senior vice president of Global Products. He tells reporters he once tested the current search engine with the term iPod and found that a car topped search results because the seller noted in the listing title that the vehicle came with an iPod adapter.

eBay has been working on Cassini for some time, and has invested significantly, tripling the number of employees who work on search technology to 150 and hiring several engineers who previously worked for Bing, including Williams.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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