Blekko Search Engine

Blekko ScreenshotThe search engine market is quite a crowded place. Google, by far the dominant search leader, has a massive 65% market share. Yahoo comes in at a distant second, so far back that they had to make a deal with 3rd place Bing in order to share results and ads , making them big enough to compete.

Founding a new search engine requires quite a bit of audacity, and a really good idea. Even with a new feature, many other search engines have tried and failed. So hearing that Blekko is going to be entering the search engine market makes us skeptical.

Yet after checking out all of its great features, the new search engine has quite a bit of promise, is very likeable, and is really worth checking out.

First off, let’s discuss the index. One of the things that makes market leader Google so good is their vast index – even when searching for an obscure item, you still find relevant results. For a new search engine, trying to get a competitive search index is difficult. One of the things that makes Blekko look so promising is that is has a good index – they have a web crawler that’s been going out over the past few months, and building up and index of billions of site.

This means that they actually have quite a chance at being competitive. If Blekko were just almost as good as Google, then they wouldn’t be worth trying. But they know they can’t be successful that way, and so they’ve made it easy to make their search results more relevant. They do this through slashtags – search queries beginning with a slash. There are a number of built in slashtags. For instance, if you wanted to search for Barack Obama, you get a list of sites about Barack Obama, ordered by relevance.

But if you want to find out what’s been going on recently, you might want to try using the /date slashtag. You simply search for “Barack Obama /date”, and you get a list of results with the most recent on top. You can use any of a number of other built in tags, like /humor, /politics, or /gossip, to order search results by those categories. In addition to the built in search tags, there are a number of API tags which allow you to search external site. These tags include /Twitter, /Amazon, /Flickr, and others, and they allow you to search those sites. For instance, searching books simply returns a list of sites about books, but “books /Amazon” returns product results for books from Amazon, and “books /Twitter” returns tweets about books.

You can combine slashtags, so you can search “books /date /Twitter” in order to get the latest Tweets about books. As if that weren’t enough, you can create your own slash tags. For instance, if you were in to model rocketry, you could create a hobby slashtag which includes only your favorite sites, and then use that to get results only form the sites you want. There is a social element to slashtags – you can follow other people and use their slashtags, as well as publish your own, making it even easier to be able to use custom slashtags. One other great thing about Blekko is that they are very transparent.

They give away their methods for ranking sites and have amazing amounts of SEO data that is useful to web designers. Other search engines avoid doing this because they do not want to allow spammers to be able to cheat the system. However with Blekko, the idea is that you can get results that are so relevant that you don’t really have to worry about spam – which is also really nice.

Mike Markson

Overall, Blekko seems to be a really great search engine. It’s index and ability to find relevant results are already competitive, and its slashtags feature which give it the ability to refine search results even further make it an absolutely great search engine. Right now it is still in a closed beta, but you can get an invite by asking them through their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

They plan to launch this summer (2010), and are definitely worth trying out then if you don’t feel like applying for the beta. While making any predictions about their success in the closed and competitive search market, they certainly have some very nice and promising features, and so they will be a viable competitor. It’s also worth mentioning that they’ve raised over $20 million in venture capital, and there are some pretty big investment firms behind them, so watch out for them come summertime.

Contact us for your free invite to Blekko.

Update: Blekko is now available to public and receiving much noise from the media in Australia and worldwide.

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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