Just as the search world is becoming less varied, now that Yahoo search results are provided by Bing, in the US for now, a new search engine is being launched to challenge the established market. Blekko, which has been in the works for quite some time, is now going public and is available for everyone.
Blekko is a classic search engine, it's very similar to Google, Bing and so on, but for one thing, its slashtags. The human created and curated slashtags enable anyone to create a customized vertical search engine around any topic.
And they enable everyone else to get a curated search experience. In a way, it works like Google's Universal Search except you have control over when it kicks in (mostly) and over what to target.
A classic example is the search for "jaguar." You may be looking for the British car maker, the animal, the Jaguar supercomputer and so on.
Searching for the term on either Google or Bing will return a mixture of results on the first page, mostly about the car, the official website dealers and so on, and some results about the South American predator.
Doing the same search on Blekko will yield largely similar results. But once you start using slashtags, things change. Adding "/cars" will filter the results to narrow them down to those relating to the car maker.
Adding "/tech" to the search query, will surface results relating to the tech sector, mostly about the supercomputer.
Most of these slashtags have been created by users, who have manually added websites to various categories. This approach does a good job at weeding out spam, content farms and other sites with aggressive SEO, but it's also the search engine's biggest weakness, it relies on users to make this work.
Adding "/animals" to the "jaguar" query won't return the results you'd expect since the "animals" category hasn't been created. Neither has "nature."
Granted, Blekko has just come out of private beta. Once people start using it, more and more categories, centered around more specific topics will pop up.
While the search engine has some advantages, it's hard to see Blekko as a competitor to Google, or even to Bing, and the company doesn't position itself as such. But some diversity in the search space is welcomed.