By now you all probably know the Grams search engine we have reported about few weeks ago, a report that followed by a media storm about the first Darknet markets search engine, or the Google of the deep web, even prior to that, we have been in contact with Grams admin, and its no secret that Grams is our favorite DNM service by far, so we were happy to had the chance and interview him when we have learned about the many features he is working on, so here are the questions we have asked him, we would like to thank him for taking the time answering them – and for creating this high quality service that is surely one of the next big things since the original Silk Road, and a major game changer for the DNM community!
Those of you familiar with the SEO / PPC / SEM World – Are just going to fall in love with the way he thinks. (Are we about to see Dark Net market SEO service providers for vendors?)
Can you elaborate about the new features you are releasing? (Note: This article was published 1 Day after their release because of editorial delay)
In the past week I’ve added some mini features, and I try to add a new feature every other day. These mini features include the top 20 trending searches of the day, and also the all-time trending searches. Also, thanks to DNSstats.net Grams added a widget to show up to date info on which Markets are currently up or down. It checks the DNSstats.net every 15 minutes.
The big feature I’ve been working on for a while and finally finished this week was to overhaul the search algorithm. Once I started working on an ad-words feature, I realized that the search algorithm needed to be more keyword based since the previous algorithm only searched the database using full-text method. At the same time, I realized that a lot of searches were for keywords not necessarily related to the marketplaces, which meant I needed a full Tor search engine. I first created a full Tor search engine using weighted keywords, which analyzes webpages base on the number and placement of keywords on a page. After that was done, I created a similar system to find weighted keywords in the Dark Net market listings. Once both systems were completed I merged the database systems so that users will now see Tor sites and darknet market listings side by side in the search results. Search results will now be more relevant, accurate, and diverse. The system is not perfect yet- I will be tweaking the different weights given to keywords over the next couple weeks, to give users the best results possible.
With this new system, I was able to implement a “Add a Site” feature which allows users to submit their own Tor sites to be indexed by our search engine. Grams will allow any Tor site, and will also be indexing any clearnet sites that are related to the Dark Net such as DeepDotWeb.com and DNSstats.net. The only sites Grams will not be indexing are those with child pornography/pedophilia related content. Once a site is submitted, I review it to verify that it’s actually live, and doesn’t conflict with the restriction above. After I approve a site, it will be indexed approximately once a week to look for changes. If a site is down 2 times in a row during a spider attempt, it will be taken out of search results. Tor site owners will get the best results on Grams by making sure their meta tags such as title and description are accurate, just as they would SEO for a clearnet site.
What other new features are expected?
I will be adding one or two small features every week, while the majority of my time will be consumed by the big features. I’m conflicted by the need to monetize the site, while also creating features that will better the user experience. The next major feature, I think, will do both. I’m calling it “Gramwords”, and basing it the Google Adwords system. Now that the weighted keyword search algorithm is in place, I can really sink my teeth into this project. Vendors and Tor site owners alike will be able to purchase sponsored keyword listings for their sites and/or products. My goal is to create this system while collecting as little user information as possible. Nothing is final yet, but the sytem I’m developing will work like this:
An advertiser will create an ad listing, and select which keywords they would like their ad to be applied to, along with how much they are willing to pay per day for each keyword. They will then be given a Bitcoin address, which they can top up with funds. At the beginning of each day, the Grams system will determine the sponsored listings to show for that day based on the highest bidding listings with enough funds in the account to cover that cost for that day. The funds will then be deducted from the advertiser’s account, and their listings will show up for that day when the keywords they have selected have been searched. If an advertiser is not the highest bidder, they have the option to change keywords for the next day, bid higher, re-fund the funds, or leave the listing as is, and hope for the current highest bidder to run out of funds.
I decided to do a by-day purchase- instead of clicks like adwords- because I don’t have the proper click fraud protection that is needed for that type of system.
Another feature I will be working on after Gramwords is in place, is a vendor review system. Grams already has all vendors in the database, so the next logical step is allowing users to click on a vendor’s name, either from an ad, or a vendor directory we will create, and see all the reviews from different markets. Grams will also be collecting reviews from the different sub-reddits such as /r/DarknetMarket, where I feel the most valuable reviews come from.
I have a lot more ideas, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
So following the nice exposure you had, how many daily visitors does gram have currently?
For about a week after the articles, Grams was averaging around 20,000 visitors per day, and around 30,000 searches. As expected, it’s fallen off after the hype of the articles, and currently averaging 8-10,000 unique users, with 10,000 -15,000 searches per day.
How long have you been working on grams?
It’s been a almost 2 months. I came up with the idea one day and spent a week creating the initial alpha concept. Once I saw how well it was received, I have been working non-stop to hopefully make Grams the most popular and most trusted search engine on the Dark Net.
What is your technical background? (you seem very professional)
I’ve been working in web development for over 9 years. I’ve created small sites on the clear net to pay the bills and keep my small company afloat for that time. When I first found out that there’s a whole sub-culture and hidden web based on anonymity, I decided I wanted to be on the cutting edge of making the Dark Web just as useful and easy to use as the clearnet.
What type advertising is currently allowed / not allowed on grams?
It’s the same as the Grams search engine regulations- no child pornography/pedophilia. As of now, our only advertising availability is the rotation of banner ads on the sidebar- which has been sold out for the first week we offered it. I only allow 1-week purchases of this spot at a time since I am still figuring out the best rate, which can change week to week.
Are there any markets that refused to co operate with you in order to be listed on Grams?
I’ve made an API that’s easy for markets to implement. Most smaller markets, and a couple of the big ones were happy to use the API. We had trouble in the beginning, but thanks to some help from thecoder@bungee54, we now have an example class which makes it a lot easier for markets to implement the API system. Two of the bigger markets told me through email that they would implement the API, but after several followup emails, never responded back. I will be deciding in the next few weeks, whether to scrape these markets manually, as I have been doing (which is a tedious and time-consuming process) or to remove them from the search results. I would like to hear what the users think, any comments or suggestions are welcome at the Grams subreddit: /r/grams
Can you share some inside screenshots of future developments?
I’m a back end coder at heart, and I do the actual layout last. So unfortunately I have nothing pretty to show you.
Thank you again for this interview, we will keep following and updating about your growth as you release new features!