Monday, November 1, 2010

Blekko Takes Aim at the Google Goliath

The web buzzed this morning with talk of Blekko, a new search engine which has just launched to the public after several months in private beta-testing. As The New York Times reported, Blekko aims to filter out spam-like sites which push unhelpful results to the top of other search engines. In some areas which Blekko editors consider especially vulnerable to spam results (health and medical information, recipes, cars, travel, song lyrics, finance and college searching), the results are automatically filtered. In other areas, Blekko’s “slashtag” search option allows users to quickly filter irrelevant results. (See a demonstration and comparison at Search Engine Land.)

Blekko is just the latest search engine competitor to debut in a Google-dominated market. So how will they fare? It’s hard to tell. Last year’s “new kid” Bing is still holding strong, thanks to aggressive advertising and financial support from its heavyweight parent company Microsoft. But for every Bing which captures a piece of the search engine market share, there are several smaller search engines which don’t: for example, 2008’s Cuil, which the Goodson Blogson reviewed upon its debut. Although hopes were high for Cuil due to its developers’ past employment at Google, the would-be competitor shut down in September of this year.

No matter what happens to Blekko, it’s worth remembering that there are a number of search options out there, and that each will give you slightly different results. Dogpile’s Search Engine Comparison allows you to view a cross-section of results for your search from the “Big 4” (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask), while sites like SearchEngineWatch and Search Engine Land report on new developments from the major and minor engines out there.

For help finding the best place to start your search, be sure to Ask a Librarian.