Blekko’s Customisable Social Search Experience

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Blekko Search Engine Result Page

Just recently TechCrunch has reviewed Blekko as it prepares to launch and broke the news that it will become available to the public from November 1st. Blekko is a cool search engine that promises to ‘slash the web’ and give the user more explicit control over their search experience.

There are a few things that make Blekko different to Google and Bing. It is far more transparent in how it ranks pages in its results page, it offers a new kind of search tool in the form of Slashtags, there is a “Web Search Bill of Rights”:

  1. Search shall be open
  2. Search results shall involve people
  3. Ranking data shall not be kept secret
  4. Web data shall be readily available
  5. There is no one-size-fits-all for search
  6. Advanced search shall be accessible
  7. Search engine tools shall be open to all
  8. Search & community go hand-in-hand
  9. Spam does not belong in search results
  10. Privacy of searchers shall not be violated

A lot of the links relating to this are in my blog post from August on Blekko.

Slashing the Web

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Blekko Slashtag

Slashtags are what make Blekko really unique. Slashtags can be used to limit a search to a group of sites or other Slashtags. They can also control what information is displayed ( like /image and /rank ) and add a number of tools ( /map, /traffic and /stock for example ) and other functions to the results page. Users can create Slashtags for their own use or to be shared, composed of sites and existing Slashtags.

Spiders and Indexes

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Blekko Search Engine Result Page with Yahoo! listings

Blekko supplements their own directory for obscure or misspelt queries with Yahoo! content and their apparent spidering rate and frequency is not as high as Google’s. Given the difference in resources, this isn’t suprising.

SERPs as a Feed

You can create an RSS feed from queries and Slashtags similar to Twitter’s search tools. Unfortunately because of the nature of the closed beta this feature has not worked with external readers. However, as a tool for generating subject or query specific updates and notifications it promises to be very cool.

Slashtags and Sharing

Blekko search boxes using Slashtags can be embedded in other sites in a way that is functionally similar to Google Custom Search Engine (CSE). Slashtags created by others can also be used searching on Blekko itself. Blekko’s tools for this are not as comprehensive as those offered by Google, but it is an interesting alternative. Despite the differences in operation, Google CSE is the closest parallel in live search tools to Blekko in search right now.

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Blekko Shared Slashtag

Another thing that makes Blekko’s Slashtags interesting is the ability to grant other users editorship rights. Blekko sometimes grants editorial rights to users, and individuals can share these rights among themselves for user generated tags. Changes to Slashtags, from new sites and other changes to editorships are visible through Global Chatter as well as your profile page, should you being following the tag.

Global Chatter

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Blekko Global Chatter, /Chatter

Blekko has an activity stream called Global Chatter which is divided into /chatter and /global. /Chatter is a stream of status updates, comments, posted Slashtags and searches. It supports comments and public profile-to-profile messaging. /Global is a stream of Slashtag alterations, including added or removed sites, editors and Slashtags.

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Blekko Global Chatter, /Global

Human Curation

Both Blekko and Google CSE can provide a human curated search experience, though there are significant differences. Blekko is more transparent to the user, and due to its searchable and accessible Slashtags, global chatter feed, and more open nature it is certainly a tool more for the user. Google focused on providing a publisher specific tool, whereas Blekko is firmly aimed at the consumer.

Blekko is a cool tool if you have a group of websites you wish to search through, or wish to share or recommend to other users, or you just want to avoid content farms or SEO black holes cluttering up the results page. Potentially, offsite social activity can create communities of users sharing Slashtags and collectively managing their own search experience.  Should this trend emerge, support on Blekko for this activity could lead to some very interesting emergent behaviour.

Works in online marketing, runs on coffee and has a web design background. I maintain a few blogs to collect ideas and interesting stuff about the Internet, marketing online, coffee and technology.
Posted in Online, Search

One response to “Blekko’s Customisable Social Search Experience”

  1. […] just got a new t-shirt sent to me by Blekko, the new search engine. Blekko has a lof of cool stuff that I have written about on my other blog, at […]

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