Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) just can’t catch a breather. Six weeks after the death of Cuil comes the launch of Blekko, another search engine upstart with big ambitions and even bigger ideas.
Blekko claims to achieve better results than Google and Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Bing by using “slashtags” to sharpen searches. Visually, they’re represented by adding a slash to the end of a search string -- “motley fool /date,” for example, which organizes Foolish articles and mentions by their date of appearance.
Slashtags are but one part of what makes Blekko different. Here’s a quick list of the other features I found useful while exploring the environment:
- Social tools. You can follow other users and their created slashtags. As the company says in its “search bill of rights,” search should be social. Google has said something similar in the past, but has failed to do anything about it.
- Instant data. Webmasters may appreciate Blekko for how it instantly exposes link data, site ranks, and statistics for search engine optimization (SEO).
- Spam swatting. Users can mark any result in a search page as spam, commanding Blekko to avoid that site in presenting future results.
On balance, I think Blekko’s social tools will help it gain share in the competitive search marketplace. Why? Algorithms are precise but not smart. With a mechanism for capturing human interests -- i.e., the creating and sharing of slashtags, just as Twitter users share lists -- Blekko is built to get smarter over time.
The company also has a good pedigree. AskJeeves.com investor U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) backs Blekko, as does CMEA Capital. Both firms have a history of investing in Web infrastructure. For example, USVP helped bring Blue Coat Systems (Nasdaq: BCSI ) public in 1999.
Yet it would be a mistake to overestimate Blekko’s importance. Google has hundreds if not thousands of engineers routinely tweaking its search engine, and its ecosystem of search-dependent services makes it difficult for users to switch.
So let’s please not kill Blekko by calling it a Google killer. It isn’t. Nor is it a serious threat to Bing. Blekko is merely different, and as such is likely to force both of the leading search engines to innovate. I can’t think of a better outcome.
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Will Blekko disrupt Bing and Google? Let us know by voting in the poll below and then leave a comment to explain your thinking.
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