Did you think the search engine wars had come down to a fight between Google and Bing? Think again. The new contestant, Blekko, is stepping into the ring. It offers a new feature to “slash the web” and filter your search results.
Blekko isn’t a Google-killer. Nor is Blekko proporting to be. But Blekko’s “slashtags” are a unique feature that may draw you in on occasions when you want to see how search results look when they’re skewed to a particular viewpoint.
“We’re there for searches you can’t do elsewhere,” said Michael Markson, vice president of marketing for Blekko. “Every time you search the conservative web, we want to do that search. Or the green web, and so on.”
Slashtags: Spinning Your Search Results
What would rank number one for “news” if you asked conservatives versus liberals? Blekko can give you the spin from both groups. Want your search results with a liberal slant? You can do that at Blekko, or slash your results the opposite way for a conservative view.
This is all done using slashtags, special keywords that you place after what your searching for, in order to indicate the viewpoint you want used to spin your results. Blekko maintains over 250 slashtags, including viewpoints such as
But slashtags are not just synonymous with viewpoints. More correctly, each slashtag represents a collection of web sites on a particular topic.
When you search using the /liberal slashtag, you’re running your search against all the pages that Blekko has found from over 70 web sites that have been categorized as liberal. In effect, you’re searching the “liberal” web, or a least a select subset of the liberal web.
Don’t look for slashtags at Bing or Google. While Google offers vertical search in key areas, as does Bing, neither approaches the wide-range of topics that Blekko offers. There’s no “liberal” or “conservative” or “green” search you can do, as in the examples above.
More About Slashtags
So far, I’ve mostly mentioned the “topic” slashtags that Blekko offers. Blekko also offers what it calls “built-in” tags, some of which can similarly sound like topic tags. For instance:
Those all bring back matches from sites that are associated with a person, are news sites, are blogs or forums.
There are also built-in tags that pull back information from third-party sources, such as maps (/map), or which allow you to bring in results from other search engines such as Bing (/bing), Yahoo (/yahoo) and even Google (/google).
There are also three special “built-in” slashtags that filter results in ways other than by topic:
The first is designed to keep porn sites out of your results. The second ranks results by date. The third? It unlocks some of the secrets of why one site is ranked higher than another.
Revealing The Ranking Algorithm
Ever wonder why a search engine ranks a particular site over others? It’s all down to a ranking “algorithm,” a formula of adding up various factors such as the words on a web page, how people link to the web page, the importance of those links and more to decide who “wins” and should show up in the top results.
Search engines like Google and Bing do explain some of the key factors in their ranking algorithms, but Blekko takes things to an entirely new level with the /rank slashtag.
Other Search Engine Alternatives
I use Google for my most of my searches, but I have also been impressed with Bing and us it regularly as well. I don’t use AltaVista or Ask.com because Google and Bing serve me so well. But I do plan to use Blekko for it’s unique features. Another interesting search engine I love is Wolfram Alpha which searches databases not websites and returns tabular results. On the horizon, we can expect a new type of search engine that will feature social media like facebook as a main feature.