Blekko Makes it out of Beta and Opens for Business
Blekko is the creation of Rich Skrenta and his team, who previously brought you Topix and Open Directory. Blekko is a search engine with a twist – slashtags. Using slashtags to perform a search allows users to customize the web so the results they get are based on their own predilections.
Predilections? OK, better to say you the user choose what part of the web is going to be searched. For instance, you’re interested in hotels, but only in France, so you would perform a Blekko search as, “hotels/France” or even “France/hotels”. What is happening is the slashtag, /XXXXX, is slimming down the portion of the web which will be searched, known as a vertical search. In comparison, Google and Bing search the entire spectrum of the web, known as “horizontal” search, the drawback being that a user doesn’t need everything on the web, especially when they are looking for specific and relevant information.
The big question is whether Blekko delivers more relevant search results?
The answer is yes and no.
Blekko does provide for a customizable search experience, but there are still plenty of bugs which need to be ironed out with Blekko. For instance, searching on the example search, “Cure for Headaches” delivers a string of results which are clearly relevant, especially when you compare the results to Google’s. Perusing the results, Blekko’s are clearly of better quality, while Google’s includes a cure for headaches using Botox and whether orgasms cure or induce headaches!
The slashtags provide for selective searching which does provide for more relevant results, and a marked reduction in spam sites showing up in the results. This is the USP for Blekko – user customization of what will be searched. How attractive this will be to the mainstream user remains to be seen, but there is an obvious need from special interest groups and tekkies not to mention SEO practitioners.
Why SEO practitioners?
Blekko provides a fully open window into how a site gains its Blekko ranking. The analysis provided gives a useful (to SEO people) breakdown of the differing components which led Blekko to rank the site as it does, but there is a drawback with this. The database which Blekko is working with is just too small at the moment, though Rich Skrenta, Blekko’s CEO and founder advises they are working hard on this.
Cuil, Wikia Search and Wolfram Alpha
If you’ve never heard of these names don’t be alarmed. They are all defunct search engines, Cuil going offline last month – they all claimed much but in the end, Google crushed the life out of them. Is this the same fate awaiting Blekko?
Not likely. Blekko delivers a truly unique user-feature which no-one else has come up with. There is obvious application and even if Blekko attracts single-digit market share, which is likely, that in itself is worth billions of dollars (and the Blekko investment is only a paltry $20 million which is less than Bill Gates’ pocket change).
The likelihood is that Blekko will be bought by either Google or Bing and incorporated into their existing offering, but it would be great to see the Facebook cat thrown amongst the search engine pigeons. If Mark Zuckerburg & Co. were to incorporate Blekko into Facebook, the 2nd most popular website on the planet, that would be fireworks, not to mention a very hefty price tag being placed on Blekko. A Facebook deal would open up the search engine market completely and Google would have a real fight on its hands to maintain its dominance of the search engine market, but with $50 billion in cash, Google can buy Blekko many times over, but then so can Microsoft.
Let the games begin, but Rich Skrenta and his team are the chief jokers who will be laughing all the way to the bank.