When I have a question or want to do research on a product or service, I go straight to Google. I don’t even think. It’s a natural reaction. Google dominates the search engine game. The screen shot below indicates that 71.61% of all search queries for the 4 weeks ending 8/7/2010 occurred on Google, with Yahoo at a distant second with 14% and Bing third at 9.8%.
The data above should come as no surprise for those that follow search engines. The data also suggests it would take a colossal effort with game-changing technology, millions in capital and someone crazy enough to build a new search engine. Rich Skrenta is up to the task. He started Blekko in 2007 and it was first covered in 2008 by TechCrunch. Danny Sullivan recently covered Blekko in detail on SearchEngineLand and offered up 25 Blekko BETA invitations to give the new search engine a test drive. I was not one of the lucky 25, but I did ask Blekko directly for a BETA invitation and they thankfully obliged. After 6 days of using Blekko’s BETA search engine, I’ve found Blekko to be extremely helpful in 2 areas: Vertical Search and Algorithm Transparency.
1. Vertical Search with Blekko
Blekko’s game-changing search engine allows searchers to “slash the web” or easily customize a search query to find what you are looking for and reduce clutter. When researching any topic, you can add a slashtag to drill down and get particular view points in the search results. For Example, if you query Blekko for “HealthCare,” you can then add a slashtag for “liberal” and get only liberal points of view. See healthcare/liberal and below:
Blekko has a Most Popular slashtag section that includes:
And an API section where you can search more Verticals:
Think of these Vertical search options (via slashtags), similar to Google’s options for “images.” You can literally search all of Flickr for any images within Blekko. Similarly, you can search all of Twitter within Blekko for a particular keyword. While Google has the most comprehensive index, and gives you the ability to search a for the most information on a particular topic horizontally, I would argue that it is worth using Blekko if you are looking for relevant and specific viewpoints on niche topics and verticals.
2. Algorithm Transparency with Blekko
While Google’s search engine algorithm is commonly referred to as a “blackbox,” Blekko lets search engine fanatics see directly into their search engine algortihm. One slashtag that Blekko has created to view the inner workings of how they rank websites on search engine results pages is “/rank.” Let’s take a look at the data Blekko provides for a search query containing /Rank: Search: Inbound Marketing/Rank
50 websites show up in the search engine results page. It seems as though Blekko ranks the 50 webpages based on Domain, Anchor, Title and URL. Blekko breaks up “inbound marketing” into 3 keyword phrases and provides a detailed analysis:
- inbound marketing
You can even search “more detail” which lists a variety of factors that Blekko use to rank websites for “inbound marketing.” /Rank is not the ONLY slashtag with visibility into search engine algorithm. If you want to dive into the detail of on page and off page seo factors for a particular URL, all you do is search URL /SEO. Let’s take a look at what happens when we search for http://InboundMarketing.com /SEO
There is a wealth of information here regarding Blekko’s search engine algorithm and how Blekko ranks web pages for particular search queries. I am not going to dive into every detail of the on-page or off-page search engine algorithm ranking factors, but it is worth nothing that Blekko wants searchers to understand the way their search engine operates. While Blekko is in it’s infancy and still in BETA, I’ve had a pleasant experience using Blekko for vertical search and detailed algorithm transparency. From now on when I need to do research on a product or service, I will need to think about which search engine to use and will not exclusively use Google.