Blekko—the New Little Search Engine That Just Might…

There’s a new kid on the block, the block owned by Google. A search engine named Blekko launched mere minutes ago and I think you’ll want to try it out.

Search engines come and search engines go, as we learned most dramatically from the case of Cuil. Bing may still hang in there, but it seems as though Yahoo! is in decline.

So how do you find a place in a world dominated by Google? You differentiate yourself by offering different sorts of results. WolframAlpha is perhaps the extreme example of this, positioning itself as a “computational knowledge engine.” So what’s Blekko’s edge?

Blekko offers to let you filter your search with facets, calling them slashtags (a pretty cunning turn on the already popular phrase and use of “hashtags”). They’ve already created a bunch of these filters for you, e.g. “/photoblogs /photography /php /physics /plasticsurgery /poker /politicalblogs /politics”. It would seem that these are not simply additional and required search terms, but are likely search terms backed by a thesaurus of sorts, enabling “fuzzy logic” searching.

You can create your own slashtags, though how this works to begin with isn’t clear. (Perhaps here a brand new slashtag is merely a search term.) You can, however, adjust the results in a number of ways, so that your slashtag becomes more and more accurate, though I suspect that to make much of a difference could take quite a long time; and I wonder whether a well-constructed Boolean search wouldn’t be a whole lot better.

But the business of slashtags is just the most obvious and most touted feature. There are other features that could well make Blekko a truly useful search engine even for a confirmed Googler like me. For example, with one click I can order my results by date, something I find really useful. I can label a result as spam, and so banish it forever from my sight. And I can see the SEO stats for a site, helping me assess its usefulness, perhaps.

To help you figure out why you might want to use Blekko rather than another search engine, they give you five “use cases” where Blekko shines:

  1. Verticals with just YOUR favorite sites:
    u2 /music, iphone reviews /tech, wine /buy, 2010 season /steelers,
  2. Search you can’t do with keywords:
    global warming /conservative, ufos /paranormal, congress /humor, Kim Kardashian /gossip
  3. Slash through heavily spammed categories:
    avoiding swine flu /health, iphone 4 reviews /techblogs, Aruba /travel, low calorie /diet
  4. Access to recent material and web data:
    Obama /date, Mel Gibson /rank, cnn.com /seo, techcrunch.com /links
  5. Direct access to 3rd party api’s:
    US Open /youtube, Twilight /twitter, Moby Dick /amazon, sports car /shop

And there’s an introductory video, as well as the obligatory help section.

Go kick the tires, take it for a spin, and let us know what you discover.

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