Blekko – Just Another Search Engine?

Blekko, for those of you who haven’t yet heard, is the new kid on the search engine block. Granted, it’s not all that brand spangly new (founded in 2007), but it’s really starting to garner some attention in recent months. It boasted 1 million searches a day during January 2011. Granted, that’s not quite the 3 billion that Google boasts, but it’s certainly not bad for a new entrant into a market dominated by technology giants, Google and Microsoft.

There are a few things that set it apart from the many “newbies,” that attempt to enter the search engine market.

Ashton Kutcher

Aside from being a God-like presence on Twitter, the (incredibly good looking) husband of Demi Moore and an A-list celebrity, Ashton Kutcher is Blekko’s biggest fan. So much so, that he’s invested $200,000 into the new search engine. Now that’s a pretty good investment for Blekko to get – not just for the $$ but for the association of such a high profile star. That in itself has generated a lot of press and a lot of awareness.

Slashtags

This is Blekko’s biggest boasting point. “Slashtags,” which allow users to organise results. There’s a pretty comprehensive explanation of Slashtags here.

User Opinion

The SERPs display links beneath the website titles that allow users to vote in favour of or against a website.

blekko like and spam feature

On that note, it’s interesting that “Blekko” ranks itself first for “search engine.” If you perform the same search in Google, Dogpile ranks first, Bing! ranks second,Wikipedia ranks third and Google.co.uk is a 6th place entry!! Blekko isn’t really embracing the competition now, is it?

These votes are used by Blekko to analyse whether a site is high quality or whether it is spam. Perhaps a good idea in theory, but this is open to so much abuse.

Spam

Founder Rich Skrenta defines Blekko’s aim as being to “clean up Web search and get all the spam out of it.” Not so dissimilar to Google’s core aim – particularly in regard to getting rid of “content farms.” But Blekko’s approach to clearing out “spam,” is proving a bit controversial. Personally, I can’t decide whether it’s genius or simply ridiculous.

You can openly see which sites have been deemed “spam,” by Blekko from a link in the footer of blekko.com.

Controversially, websites like eHow.com and expertsexchange.com have recently been deemed spam and added to this list – thus removed from search results.

Now, while I am all for clamping down on sites made up, largely, of poor quality content, this is completely subject to opinion in some cases. I have used Experts Exchange and the quality moderation process is tight. I’ve always found the content (for the most part) to be reasonable and by no means any worse than a large number of the sites that have not been added to Blekko’s spam list.

Link and SEO Stats

This is something I really do genuinely like about Blekko. Within the SERP, you can click to view the site’s links and some of its SEO statistics. This is publicly available – not just available to the webmasters.

blekko seo stats

blekko statistics

Honestly, I do like that feature.

Blekko – Good or Bad?

Sorry to sit firmly on the fence here, but I am just not sure. I love certain features (such as the SEO stats) but I think the fact that the user “likes,” and “spam” votes have so much influence over rankings is potentially a downfall. It will be abused. Of course, it would be wonderful to have a world where there was no web spam. But just haphazardly banning sites based on user votes doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

As I said, I’m sitting firmly on the fence. I don’t dislike the search engine – but (at least for now) I wouldn’t use it myself when looking for something online. Definitely one to keep an eye on though.

About Stacey MacNaught

I'm the Head of Search at Tecmark and a lover of all things Internet and Apple. I'm a chronic #hashtagger, social media-er, compulsive blogger and a self confessed lover of inexcusably terrible jokes.