James Perrin

Is The Future Bright or Bleak for Blekko?

8th Feb 2011 News, Industry News 3 minutes to read

Blekko announce thirty million search queries and 110,000 newly created slashtags in January.  The search engine that only took off last November looks as though it’s starting to make an impact on the search engine scene.

It was reported yesterday in Search Engine Watch [See: Blekko Reports 30 million Queries in January] that in January Blekko received 30 million search queries and it’s community of users also helped create 110,000 slashtags, which are supposed to help users specify the types of sites they want.

Putting these figures into perspective we can see that Blekko still has a long way to go. After all according to statistics from Search Engine Land in February last year, Google receive 34,000 searches per second. So their monthly search query figures dwarfs Blekko’s 30 million with a staggering 88 billion per month. But let’s be fair, this search engine is in its infancy and is currently appealing to a niche audience.

Now Blekko’s whole USP is that they are offering a better quality search engine results that excludes spam content. They do this by selecting content from trusted sites, 3 billion of them in fact. Websites are deemed trustworthy by the community of users engaging with the search engines. Users curate the best sources and index these using slashtags that they create; this narrows your search so you are just searching the sites you want.

To help combat the issue of spam leaking into search results, Blekko are distancing themselves from Google and other competitors to offer a truly unique search experience. As part of their efforts to reduce spam, they announced last week they are going to block 20 sites deemed as low in quality [See: Blekko Removes Content Farms from Search Results], including ehow.com. What is interesting here is that this search engine is combining search and social elements to create a unique platform.

Therefore the whole experience adds a degree of social influence to the search engine, so that you trust what you are finding and thus reading; all designed to improve quality and eliminate spam. In a move that confirms their intent, Blekko have also integrated Facebook’s ‘like’ data to their search engine. So when you type in your search query, end the query with /friends and you can view the site that your friends have ‘liked’ for that search term. For example, instead of just typing in ‘films’, if you type ‘films/friends’, your SERP will reveal all the sites that your friends have liked regarding films.

So, in a clever move, Blekko are clearly offering a niche and unique search engine instead of going head to head with Google, a la Bing. Is this fusion between search and social an insight into web trends of the future? I mean, it has been something that we at Koozai have commented on before [See: Facebook Overhaul Google as the Most Popular Site of 2010], so it could very well become a reality with Blekko.

On the other hand, the cynic in me thinks that the whole war on spam may just be a publicity stunt by Blekko. Google will never be able to do this, they may never want to. But this gives Blekko a USP, something that the big two can’t compete with due to their algorithm-based search.

There are also issues regarding its popularity; it is quite difficult for non-enthusiasts to get their heads around, and therefore its wider appeal/uptake may be questionable. It isn’t instantaneous at all; try searching for current news and you could be waiting a while.

Whilst a search engine that incorporates a social influence appears to be a unique way to challenge Google, the way Blekko have complicated theirs does question whether they will be able to build on their success in January and appeal to a mass audience as Google does with its 88 billion search queries per month. It’s great having the alternative, but if it remains an Internet Marketing industry secret, the future may be as limited as its audience.

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