Blekko – The Future of Search?

Ok, So What The Heck Is Blekko?

While doing an SEO analysis on a client website, I noticed a link coming from something called Blekko. I’ve heard this name before in passing, and at one time even researched it a bit, but I dismissed it as just another fledgling search engine that would soon die off. So many sites out there were claiming to be "the next Google" that  fell extremely short.

However, when finally taking a look at this tool I see that it’s much more than a simple search engine. Founded in the heart of Silicon Valley, this search engine has been dubbed the "Google killer" by some. A very bold statement, but the ideas introduced and the information given by Blekko does make it quite compelling. Given the sheer chaos of results now given by Google, inevitably people are looking for an alternative. (Bing being the "decision engine" for example). Much like Google was the simpler solution to all the previous search engines of its generation, Blekko seems to be an intutive, simpler interface that’s loaded with options and data.

Slashing Out The Web

Blekko’s main feature is the introduction of the concept of "slashing" out the web: using slash tags to create favorites or even remove certain sites from the search. For the most part the searches are similar… you can type keywords/keyphrases into the search bar and get results. Where it differs is that you can use the slash tag within your search to introduce a new search filter. So the keywords after the slash tags make the search more specific. Sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use semantic indexing when drawing results, Blekko builds additional queries based on the slash tag data. For example (used in the video below), if you were to look for people in fashion photography, you could type "photography /fashion /people" and it will show you only sites that pertain to that filtered information. (Make sure you put a space before the slashtag.)

Snapshot of search query in Blekko

Much like Google, personalized results come from logging in. There are hundreds of predefined slashtags, but you can create others when you’re logged in. You can create an account with Blekko and even share your slashtags with other users.

Spam

They also take a heavy stance against spam sites by introducing a way to weed them out should you encounter it in your personalized searches. The slashtag function in itself is subject to spamming, but they have been mentioned to counter it with a "Wikipedia-style policing by users."

Additional Features

The search filtering function is not the only thing interesting about this site. Though you may notice the Google-like interface, there are a few other features that set this apart from any other search engine. Under each URL it lists the following:

  • Like – The ability to "Like" the URL directly to Facebook.
  • Add – Clicking this will give you the ability to add the site as a slashtag.
  • Seo – (My personal favorite) goes to a section containing backend SEO-related data for the website.
  • Links – Similarly links to a section with backend link information pertaining to the site. This is similar to the results page; much like typing "link:" in Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
  • Cache – Gives you a text cached snapshot of the URL; seeing it without all the CSS and images. This is similar to the "text only cache" through Google’s search bar.
  • Ip – Gives results of pages that pertain to the domain’s IP address.
  • Info – On certain sites, additional information is given about the site. (In the form of a javascript box.)
  • Spam – Mark a site as spam and have it disappear from your personalized searches!

SEO Data

This is the function that really caught my attention. When you click on the SEO function you get a lot of great data pertaining to that specific URL:

  • HTML source code
  • Host Rank
  • Site Pages (click on the number to see the actual URLs)
  • Inbound Links (click on the number to see the actual URLs)
  • Pie Charts that explain the location of these links by State and Country
  • Domains that duplicate the content (click on the number and it takes you to a new page that shows the actual domains!)
  • Crawl stats
  • Which sites are co-hosted with that specific site (via Whois)

Check out the example for www.bestrank.com.

Snapshot of Blekko’s SEO feature.

This is a lot of GREAT information for any search engine optimization company and web nerds like myself. Blekko gives everything upfront when ordinarily you would have to visit multiple sites including logging into Google Webmaster Tools. The tools are embedded within the search engine itself.

Personally, I am very intrigued by the power of Blekko. Will it overtake the major search engines in terms of use? Is this just for techie types or will it catch on to the general public? Co-founder Rich Skrenta plans to make Blekko the next big thing in search.  Blekko was technically launched last year, so it’s a matter of time to see if people will catch on and build a following or just fizzle out. I see this being a great benefit to the SEO/web tech crowd, but it remains to be seen how the non-SEO user finds the results.

You want to see Blekko in action? Here’s the video introduction on their website:

blekko: how to slash the web from blekko on Vimeo.

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