Start-ups are hoping new artificial intelligence (AI) techniques that make searching the web more like talking to a friend will help them take on Google.
Companies are developing search software that understands natural language, something that has typically been difficult for computers to do.
Israel-based start-up Twiggle has come up with a solution specifically for e-commerce. The company, backed by Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba, is trying to help make searching sites for items a lot easier.
"We are trying to bring the search experience as close as possible to the positive aspect of the in-store experience," Amir Konigsberg, chief executive of Twiggle, told CNBC in a phone interview on Wednesday.
"In-store, you have an interpersonal dialogue with a sales person who helps you buy what you want. You don't say you want a 'jacket black size 42'. You say: 'Hey I want a black jacket, I want to look smart because I've got a wedding tomorrow.' That's the experience we are replicating online, to bring a much more human aspect to search."
This kind of search requires natural language processing, an area of AI that is seen as the future of the industry.