September 16, 2010 by Alain Saffel
Recently I’ve been exploring Blekko, a new search engine in beta testing now. It’s a search engine that promises to ‘slash through spam’ by allowing users to categorize sites with slashtags and to designate sites as spam, effectively eliminating spam from your search results. It used what they call “/slashtags” to assist in search and eliminate spam. So, what is a slashtag?
Everyday, SEO-friendly search engine
All search engine results are starting to look the same, whether we’re talking Google, Yahoo!, Bing or anything else. Blekko’s search results page gives you the usual Title, Snippet/Description and URL, but also adds a line just under the Title where you’ll typically see: tags, SEO, links, cache, IP, spam.
For most searchers, the only two parts of this line that will matter are tags and spam. Tags allows you to /slashtag a search result. There’s also an option on the page to /slashtag the entire search result.
Spam allows you to designate a site as spam with one click, saying it’s now ‘dead to you.’ I think someone at Blekko is a Sopranos fan.
SEO, links, cache and IP will be of more interest to those in the SEO field or small business sites doing some of their own marketing.
This search engine will be particularly interesting for anyone working in search engine optimization, as there are slashtags such as /rank, /seo, /domain and more, allowing users to delve into the finer details of why their site ranks as it does. This is quite unlike Google, which is basically a black box in terms of information about how websites rank, aside from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
I like the fact that it also allows you to compare the rankings for four sites at once, giving you a quick idea what those sites are doing and not doing well.
SEO practitioners will also like the /inbound slashtag which allows you to view the inbound links to the website you’re examining. It ranks them according to the value of the link, so finding your most valuable links, and those of your competitors, is pretty easy with Blekko.
When I’m looking at new SEO tools, I always have a look at my own sites and client sites to see them in a different way. It became obvious that the index Blekko is working with is a little dated and not complete. I don’t consider this a major issue due to their beta status and it’s something I’m sure they will correct once they’re out of beta. I am sure it’s easier to work with a smaller data set.
They do have a few APIs, so there are current results from Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, etc.
I can’t really think of too much bad to say about Blekko. It’s in beta, so I don’t expect it to be perfect. It could be better documented to explain its composite measurements such as rank, and to define some of the items you see, but I’m sure that will happen as Blekko moves toward an official launch.
I think it’s an interesting concept to be quite open about SEO, as Blekko is. As an SEO guy, I know the things I need to do to get a site to rank well. Google guards its algorithm so nobody really knows for sure what Google takes into consideration in determining how a site will rank in search results. Blekko gives us much of that information. I’m not sure if it will extend to the point of making their algorithm available, and I wouldn’t expect it.
Blekko’s CEO bristles at being called a Google killer and has a pretty good explanation of why he rejects that title. That being said, I’m sure there are many in the SEO field and regular web surfers who are interested in using some credible alternatives to the now ubiquitous Google.
I’ve been eager to find an alternative to Google, and I’m cheering for Blekko. I like what I’ve seen so far and I can see it forming a regular part of my day. I have been tinkering with it every day since I got my beta invite.
As an aside, I’ve been concerned about how many different facets of my life that Google touches. Google has a great ability to connect the dots and, while I’m not up to anything worrisome, there are good reasons to worry about Google’s reach into our lives.
Google has experienced a couple major problems lately with Google employees spying on users. Another thing that should concern anyone using Google products is the USA PATRIOT Act that gives the US government carte blanche to find out what anyone has been up to.
As a search engine, Blekko shows a lot of promise and I support what they’re doing. With a couple of former Google engineers on board and what appears to be a pretty solid team, they seem to be headed in the right direction. SEO practitioners will love the data they can glean from Blekko. Great job so far!
Mashable article on Blekko – good read