Blekko “Slashes” the Web: Can it Slash Google?

Blekko touts itself as a “better way to search the web.” The beta-version search engine was launched in November 2010 after three years of development work. Blekko’s claim to fame is that it provides a more efficient approach to searches and can provide more relevant results. Two months after launch, has Blekko delivered on its promise to help users slash the web? And does this new search engine pose any type of challenge to giant Google, or even up-and-coming Bing?

Blekko blends human input with mathematical formulas to produce results that are, they say, much more relevant.  They filter out the spam sites and unrelated results that can clutter typical results. According to Blekko, users can “use friends, experts, community or your own slashtags to slash in what you want and slash out what you don’t.” Blekko uses what the New York Times calls “Wikipedia-style policing” to filter results to exclude pages created by content farms. The slashtags allow users to narrow search results.

Say a user searches for information on personal healthcare. Their queries are limited to a list of 76 sites that have been screened and approved by Blekko’s editing staff.  While it does restrict search, it does filter out spam sites and irrelevant sites. Blekko has a team of 8000 beta editors who have developed some 3000 Slashtags for the site’s most frequent searches. The goal is to screen lists of 50 sites for the 100,000 most frequent search targets. In other words, 100,000 of the most frequently searched for items will have a corresponding list of at least 50 trusted, reliable, relevant sites.

How does Blekko perform? There are kinks to work out, which is exactly what beta stage testing is for, but, according to SearchEngineNewz, “Blekko is definitely worth exploring.  Although the information it provides cannot be called complete, there is no doubt that it does provide great information on trusted links one can use. Therefore, even with its visible flaws, any user or webmaster would be easily impressed by the daring efforts Blekko has put in.”

Others are not so optimistic about Blekko’s chances at survival. Business Insider, for instance, is certain that Blekko is “doomed.” One of their reasons is that “normal people haven’t the faintest idea of what ‘slashtags’ are or why they would ever want to use them.” While one doesn’t have to know what a slashtag is to use Blekko, it does make the slogan, “slash the web,” a little less relevant to the majority of searchers.

Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta explains the use of slashtags and how they can help you define your searches to achieve very targeted results. Check that out here. While many are excited about the specificity and features of Blekko, many others view it as a project destined for failure as it struggles for a piece of the sun from behind Google’s long shadow.

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