Blekko enters search engine market, introduces 'slashtags'

By on November 1, 2010, 9:00 AM
Many startups have tried to take on the search business in recent years but ultimately failed to steal any significant market away from the usual giants. Unconcerned by the failures of Cuil, Clusty and several others, a small Silicon Valley company with big-name backers is launching a new search engine called Blekko that promises to weed out the ever-proliferating junk and spam sites polluting web results by narrowing searches to groups of websites that people, not computers, have pre-approved as being the best sources of information for particular topics.

Blekko has seven main categories -- health, automotive, lyrics, colleges, personal finance, recipes, and hotels. If you search for "investing in bonds," for example, Blekko gives you a good set of results from SmartMoney, MSN’s Money Central, Mint.com and several others. The interesting part is that users can create their own ‘slashtags’ -- sets of web pages covering particular topics -- so when these are added to a search query, results are restricted to those from these particular sites. Other users can contribute to the lists of relevant sites for a particular slashtag, if their creator allows it.

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

The reasoning behind Blekko’s approach is that the web has increasingly become saturated with spam-like websites, specially designed to artificially boost ranking in Google's search results, but whose content is heavier on marketing pitches than substantive information. The company says they’re on par with Google and Bing for regular non-slashtag queries, but their aim is to become popular as a secondary search engine for certain types of queries that can be easily filtered by topic. In fact, the team believes Blekko could be profitable with 1 million to 2 million queries a day (out of the over 1 billion now done on the Web) and claim they have no illusions of unseating Google anytime soon.

It’s an interesting concept that focuses on quality rather than quantity. We’ll see how things develop as more people create and refine slashtags, but perhaps the most difficult part will be getting in users’s mind when thinking about search.





User Comments: 34

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pTk said:

I'm definitely going to give this a try, I can see me using this for when I'm looking for more specific things and I don't have to dig through Google.

IamBD said:

Most people tend to be set in their ways in search, but who knows, it might catch on.

taea00 said:

While I think Blekko has an interesting spin on web search, by lumping sites together using their slashtags, I don't think the average user will adjust to using these slashtags. The average user doesn't want to be bothered with extraneous info, regardless of whether it'll give you improved searches or not. Average users can't even decide whether / or \ is a forward slash.

I think another big draw back to Blekko is that it's highly dependent on the community. I'm sure they have a limited staff working on these slashtags, so they're completely at the mercy of their community. If they can get a passionate and active community built around them I think they'll have a decent chance of doing well. If they can't get users to join their cause they'll go down as just another failed search experiment.

The only other gripe I have is that Blekko doesn't know the answer to life, the universe and everything, but Google sure knows!

Serag said:

I always try new stuff as they come along but for search engines I seem to always come back for google.

Guest said:

power users will love this

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Any good search engine has to be eventually based on your search history and browsing experience, which is where the whole privacy issue comes into play. Without it, at best, you'll get what is most popular among a certain group of users, or all users.

But I do have to attest to the amount of spam clogging search results. In my efforts to eradicate a rather nasty trojan, I discovered that it was a) very obscure, and b) 90% of the search results directed me to a site to download another trojan. And they're getting good, actually faking forums with people asking about viruses, and some others posting offering "solutions".

flocka said:

nothing more annoying in google, is seeing those links that are worded exactly for what your looking for, and when you click on it, its sum BS website, with nothing related to what your looking for....

TwiztidSef said:

I find google annoying when it comes to sites with known spam and rogue malware at the top of the search results. It really sucks when your searching for an obscure hardware driver. I just seems like google is focusing on getting more page impressions and markets.

I can see how these slashtags could be very beneficial. It really depends on how well the community infrastructure is set up and how well the server runs.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

(shrugs) Works for me... Bing finds stuff Google doesn't and vice versa - this just adds a 3rd opportunity to find even more things the other two big search engines miss.

treeski treeski said:

TomSEA said:

(shrugs) Works for me... Bing finds stuff Google doesn't and vice versa - this just adds a 3rd opportunity to find even more things the other two big search engines miss.

/agree

And if nothing else, it just adds more competition to promote better technologies in the other companies.

Who knows, maybe Bing or Google will buy out Blekko...

xcelofjkl said:

I'm surely going to use this for all the computer-related searches I want to read for the next months

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Blekko? Really? That sounds like a feminine hygiene product.

Well, more power to the user, I guess. I see Google buying this in the future.

bakape said:

Well, it seems to lack on searching capabilities, just database wise, compared with Google, but it's still a beta and I see it having it's niche. Ultimately, though, have to agree, this will be just bought by Google and copied by Bing in the end, but until then, who knows.

Cueto_99 said:

Looks interesting... They even might grab some market share from Search engines /popular /google... hmmm I'm getting the hang of it!

tonylukac said:

Lyrics? Those sites are most full of adware/viruses of any non porn sites.

sMILEY4ever said:

Even though I agree with what they're trying to do, my guess is they won't be competing with google anytime soon.

Flipcharm said:

Interesting concept, but I don't think it will stick.

Plus, for our regular /freeporn "researcher", it has one character too many when compared to Google

Puiu Puiu said:

It is a new idea but like many others it is doomed to be just a little fish in an ocean called google. I wish them good luck and maybe they "force" google or bing to implement something similar.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I wasnt going to read this, but it sounds pretty neat will check it out.

UT66 said:

well, it has a silly name, so they got that right. might give it a try

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This does sound intriguing and I'll give it a shot. Especially for more obscure things that Google just can't handle and forces me to sort through spam sites. Just curious if the average PC user will try this or think it's to complicated.

taea00 said:

Average users can't even decide whether / or \ is a forward slash.

So true and sad, lol. Definitely annoying when the media uses it incorrectly on a DAILY basis...[Link]

taea00 said:

The only other gripe I have is that Blekko doesn't know the answer to life, the universe and everything, but Google sure knows!

Heh, it does link you to the correct wiki entry . They should add it since both Bing and Wolfram already provide the correct answer.

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

I might give this a try. Hey, maybe they will steal Google's award for "Best Job"...

mtrenal said:

lawfer said:

Blekko? Really? That sounds like a feminine hygiene product.

Well, more power to the user, I guess. I see Google buying this in the future.

I see Google buying this and implementing it into their already far-reaching empire, which is not a bad thing. If anything, it simply means that the employees at Blekko who create slashtag groups will probably be paid more to do the same job and the generic search engine will become even more efficient.

The only reason that I can see why Google wouldn't want to buy this if it started growing is because it might lower their revenue from sponsored sites and advertising...ie the spam that Blekko is trying to be rid of.

The cynical side of me says that if this grows independently, companies/groups will pay for their website to be included in certain slashtags where they may or may not be the best fit, which would turn Blekko right back into the spam-fest that their idea supposedly eliminates.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

TomSEA said:

(shrugs) Works for me... Bing finds stuff Google doesn't and vice versa - this just adds a 3rd opportunity to find even more things the other two big search engines miss.

Exactly, although I haven't bothered with google since bing's launch; I hope these two continue to bang heads and improve overall user experience

Guest said:

Google, Yahoo, Bing and Blekko......

I feel like circus music should be playing as these clowns all unload from a tiny wind-up car.

tehbanz tehbanz said:

Finally a safe way to find lyrics, im so sick of these bogus lyrics sites with seedy popups and "send these lyrics to your phone", why the hell would i want lyrics on my phone?

limpangel limpangel said:

taea00 said:

Average users can't even decide whether / or \ is a forward slash.

Hahahahah ... so true.

taea00 said:

I think another big draw back to Blekko is that it's highly dependent on the community.

Agree. This might be their downfall.

Also people new to this engine might come to try it out, but most of them expect Google like functionality like Instant and others. This is why they will not explore the engine further than one or two random searches.

Serag said:

Just tried it out and I love it!, watching the video is a must though for knowing about its various features.

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

Again, competition is healthy in the marketplace. It only drives each other to improve on their current product/service.

I'll give this a shot, but as others have stated. It's hard to change people's habits. But who knows, hopefully it works out for them.

mtrenal said:

Just tried it out and I love it!, watching the video is a must though for knowing about its various features.

That could be part of the issue of this catching on also, people want things instantly. They don't want to have to watch a video to figure out how to do something. This is really a shame but its the way the world is headed.

hitech0101 said:

I just googled a search then used blekko for same it seems google is a bit more accurate & both search engines seem to have relatively different results besides when you google you get links to maps,images etc. Love the slashtag feature because when you need news google brings out years old results.Though blekko will need a lot more to compete with google.

kaonis92 said:

I am fearing that in the end google is going to buy it out.

jazboy said:

looks good.. time only can tell how much market share it can steal from Google, & Bing

poertner_1274 poertner_1274, secroF laicepS topShceT, said:

Resistance is futile. Someone will purchase this and squander it's ambitions away.

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