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Halal site and sound in Arabic

Raziqueh Hussain
Filed on July 30, 2010

If you’re looking for the website of a local shop in the Middle East, you have a better chance of finding what you are looking for via www.imhalal.com. Keeping in mind its vast penetration in the region, the site has introduced a more powerful search algorithm to power Arabic, Farsi 
and Urdu.

Imhalal.com won the best halal innovation award at the world halal forum that was held in Kuala Lumpur in June 2010.

The algorithm update influences the ranking of local websites from the Middle East and Asia that contain valuable content by positioning them higher in the search results than before. In the meantime, Arabic documents and pages indexed by I’mHalal have increased by 25 per cent as a direct effect of the recent algorithm update.

Search is driven by culture, therefore in order to return the most relevant search results, I’mHalal has optimised it’s search algorithm according to the culture, lifestyle and mindset of Muslim Internet users. The search engine has matured quite significantly since the soft launch in September 2009 and aims to become the leading local search engine in the Middle East and Asia.

“When you, for example, search for the query ‘Bank’ from the UAE, Oman or Iran, in alternative search engines, the conventional interest-based banks will be shown on the first results page. Our search algorithm is more based on the culture, lifestyle and mindset of Muslims therefore our goal is when you search for a generic term as ‘bank’ in ImHalal.com, the first results returned by I’mHalal will be ‘Islamic Banks’,” says the founder Reza Sardeha.

Besides making Arabic content more accessible, the search engine has also introduced a new feature, which is dubbed as the ‘Democratic Push Algorithm’. I’mHalal is the world’s first search engine that has partially democratised it’s search algorithm by allowing its users to influence the relevancy of certain web results. “When you visit a website via ImHalal.com, automatically a I’mHalal toolbar travels with you to the particular website and this toolbar allows the user to report to us if the result page was relevant or not. This feature makes I’mHalal the first search engine that has partially democratised its search algorithm,” he says.

Capturing the complete search market in the Middle East and Asia, the response, says Sardeha, so far has been good. “Our users have supported us tremendously by giving us a lot of feedback, which has resulted in the latest version of I’mHalal. Especially in countries like Pakistan, we’re seeing an almost vital increase in the user base,” he adds.

raziqueh@khaleejtimes.com





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