The search space has been stagnant for the past few years with Google enjoying a very solid lead and with Yahoo and Microsoft trying to get by with what’s left. Everyone else barely registers. Microsoft has resorted to buying up Yahoo’s search engine to get some market share and is pouring billions to very little tangible results.
So a startup actually accomplishing something seems highly unlikely. But Google came out of nowhere to become a multi-billion company and it can certainly happen again. At least that’s what the founders of Blekko, a startup that has been in stealth mode for the past few years, are hoping as they’ve unveiled the brand-new Blekko search engine.
The site is still in private alpha, but Blekko thinks it’s time to move forward and will start giving out beta invites soon. For now, the two cofounders are giving would-be users a sneak peek under the hood. Overall, Blekko is not going to look alien to anyone who has ever used a search engine before. The layout and looks are familiar and for good reason, not only are people used to them, they are proven to work. What sets Blekko apart is the use of “slashtags.”
“Our core value is that we are finally giving users a direct say in what their search results look like. A simple slashtag appended to a query (/techblogs, /videogames, etc.) lets users slash the crappy sites out of their results and only search the good sites. Sometimes the real power of search is in what you don’t search, not what you do,” Blekko cofounder Mike Markson writes.
These slashtags can be appended to searches to narrow down the results. A slashtag can be used to search just within a website or within a category. It can also change the way the search engine ranks and sorts the results. Blekko says they’ve created hundreds of slashtags already, but users can create their own as well.
Using these filters is a good way of avoiding sites that don’t provide much value but which may rank pretty high in the search results because of aggressive SEO. Another interesting thing about Blekko is that it plans to make most of its internal data public.
“One more reason the content farmers aren't going to be happy: we're opening up all the data that is the core foundation of their business. Link data, site data, rank data - all there for everyone to see. In one fell swoop the playing field just got leveled,” Markson adds.
Whether this and whatever Blekko may still have up its sleeve will prove enough to make a dent in the search market remains to be seen, but the next few months should prove interesting for the startup.