The Blekko Argument
Blekko is a newly formed search engine that launch publicly on the last day of October this year. What makes Blekko different is the ability to remove and search only the sites you select using slash tags. The benefit of this is say you want to get the latest bit of news about a particular item of clothing from some of your favourite blogs; you could simply search for that clothing item and append a slash tag to focus on just these websites.
From an SEO point of view however the really interesting thing about Blekko is that the search engine reveals the algorithm they use to rank search queries. At least that’s what has been said anyway, what Blekko in fact reveals is the certain factors used to rank results. Whilst this can give you some insight it is not the whole picture because without knowing the weighting of each of these factors you are still in for some trial and error. Of course that’s exactly what SEO is all about testing your ideas and seeing what works. Whilst there is little to no reward to ranking well in Blekko at this current moment in time it does present a good testing ground for trying out some of your SEO theories. Knowing the factors used to rank a set of results is extremely helpful to the extent that you will now be aware of what you have to work with.
But why would you expose your algorithm, or part of it, anyway surely this will just encourage spammers? Here’s where I think Blekko hits the nail right on the head, recently Rich Skrenta of Blekko made the following statement in an interview with Aaron Wall from SEOBook:
“The only way to get a strong encryption algorithm is to publish all of the details about how it works and have public review. Once the researchers can't punch any more holes in your algorithm, only then is it good enough to trust.”
This really sums up the mentality that Blekko as a search engine has towards delivering relevant results. My personal point of view is that this is a great way to differentiate Blekko from other search engines and whilst it may seem a little idealist would be fantastic if they can pull it off. After all the purpose of a search engine is to deliver the highest quality and most relevant result to be found on the internet for any particular search query. Therefore if you can create a cast iron algorithm that will only ever display the best most relevant content then this is what we as SEOs will have to focus our attention on.
Whilst the data set Blekko currently has is small in comparison to the major search engines it will only continue to increase and there are many other reasons why SEOs might want to use this search engine. For starters you are able to see all the backlinks that a site in their index has. So if Blekko reports 20,000 links you can just keep flicking through the pages and see them all unlike the top 1,000 you get from Yahoo! Site Explorer or the “sample” of links from Google Webmaster Tools. You can also view the percentage of links coming from different countries as well as from different U.S. states. There are many other features of Blekko geared towards SEO including one of my favourites the duplicate content tab. This tab will show you duplicate content that is occurring both on and off your site. Whilst there are already systems such as Copyscape to tackle duplicate content issues Blekko gives you as much wider view of your duplicate content and I can see this being an extremely useful feature in the future.
Blekko is definitely a search engine that any SEO will want to play around with for a bit. There is some great insight to be had from using the search engine especially for those starting out in SEO, which will only become more relevant as their index expands.