Use Blekko to ‘slash the web’. What?

blekko is a better way to search the web by using slashtags.

I don’t know what that tells you, but the name and the tagline for this new search engine conjure up some pretty nasty images for me, and tell me nothing about the service. Blekko is a nonsense word, and you may think one invented word is as good as another, but Blekko sounds like something you need to clean up. And ‘slashing the web’. I dunno, that sounds nasty. Luckily they go on to explain…

slashtags search only the sites you want and cut out the spam sites. use friends, experts, community or your own slashtags to slash in what you want and slash out what you don’t.

Blekko

NOTE: The rest of these links won’t work unless you are in the Blekko beta. I have ten invites which I’ll hand out to anyone asking in the comments. You can also get invited by following Blekko on Twitter and asking there.

Slashtags

Blekko has two key features that make it potentially a winner, the first being these ‘slashtags’. These are essentially vertical searches, letting you look for particular terms on only selected sites. For example, the search ‘Obama /politics‘ looks for the term ‘Obama’ in a curated list of political sites. You can use many existing slashtags to further narrow your search, so for example ‘Obama /liberal‘ would limit the search to left-leaning sources, and ‘Obama /conservative‘ would give results from right-wing sources.

While these slastag searches could be theoretically manipulated to give you distorted results, you can always see a complete list of the websites being searched. Also, you are able to create your own slashtags. I’ve created one to search my content across various websites, for example. These slashtags can be shared with other users, and it’s this social aspect that makes Blekko really interesting.

Blekko — Create your own slashtags

/foom slashtag

There are also API slashtags (which presumably they will rename before they come out of beta) to perform video, image and shopping searches and other useful filters, like /date, /map and /noporn. As useful as all this is, I do wonder if it’s all a but CLI-ish for the average search punter. An engineer would surely argue that the concept is simple, and it is, but I can still see how it could cause confusion. For example, sometimes a slashtag is a filter for different sources, sometimes it is a filter for different content types, and sometimes it is a shortcut (/add is a shortcut to add a new slashtag).

SEO features

The thing that really distinguishes Blekko from other search engines is their openness about how they rank websites. Check out their web search bill of rights:

  1. Search shall be open
  2. Search results shall involve people
  3. Ranking data shall not be kept secret
  4. Web data shall be readily available
  5. There is no one-size-fits-all for search
  6. Advanced search shall be accessible
  7. Search engine tools shall be open to all
  8. Search & community go hand-in-hand
  9. Spam does not belong in search results
  10. Privacy of searchers shall not be violated

All good stuff, and indeed through their /seo, /links, /duptext and /rank slashtags (amongst others) you can discover loads of useful information about how Blekko (and probably all other search engines) see you.

Blekko — SEO features

Blekko — Visualise URLs

Blekko — SEO features

In fact, it was comparing the URL ranks of my foomandoonian.net domain and foomandoonian.posterous.com that convinced me to get halfblog.net set up here.

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