Blekko: The SEO Search Engine

I heard about blekko in 2009 and yes, I was a big enough sucker to be a beta user. But I was a bad beta user. I tried blekko a couple of times, but like a Siren, Google called me back. While Google still has me under her spell (and more than 90% of searchers in Canada according to StatCounter), blekko has become an indispensable tool. This has been amplified by the death of many great free tools (like Yahoo Site Explorer) and the “clutter” of universal search found in Bing and Google. In short, blekko returns relevant  results without spam (as promised).

Blekko was started by Rich Skrenta, one of the co-founders of the Open Directory Project, and the online news site Topix. Right, wrong or indifferent Skrenta has brought this “germ” of human editing and reducing spam to the search world and honestly, it really has become an amazing search engine because of it. It is refreshing to see a search engine so upfront about the way it does business and how it ranks results, but also allows users to self-regulate the spam. I’m not alone in feeling this way it seems, with blekko have an impressive rank of investors, including a nice injection of funds from Yandex (Russia’s largest engine). Best of all blekko puts it upfront to the user with a simple philosophy:

blekko 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

Another unique aspect of blekko is the power of the slashtag. The Slashtag is a modifier which basically filters results. There are three type of slashtags:

-Topical – These are created by blekko and curated by experts. This is the full list of slashtag categories.
-User Created– These are slashtags created by you or the blekko community with sites you trust. Read more on custom slashtags.
-Built-in – Built-in slashtags are programmed in the back-end by blekko and perform specific search functions, such as /date or /blogs.

As you can see slashtags are very important, and it’s worth reading more about them to get the full power of the slash.

One way blekko has tried to stand out from the competition is the classic blind “taste” test. Using an addictive game of Search Engine Monte, a search term is run on Bing, Google and blekko. Your goal is to choose the best one. Blekko, at least in my tests did a lot better than Google, for my tastes. Surprisingly Bing also did very well. If anything it proved to me that the research  is right, the Google logo/brand is quite powerful.  Another unique serive blekko is promoting is a service called “Grep”. This allows users to “submit a series of strings or patterns” and blekko “will show you the urls on which they appear (in rank order) “– that is assuming users vote for your suggestion. One example, of a recent Grep was: “Sites using fb comments vs sites using disqus comments“.

To me, though,  the so-called killer app from blekko are the SEO tools. They are amazing. Now maybe I am late to the game in telling you about them, but in talking with some friends in the industry, it seems to still be a major secret. So what makes them so awesome? Well for starters, it’s free. So what exactly is you ask? Tons of SEO goodness. Forget weeping over the closing of Yahoo Site Explorer or the lack of comparable alternatives, blekko has what you need and more. You access the SEO tools, by clicking on the SEO link found with each search result:

Here is a quick run down on the type of SEO data blekko shares from it’s index:

  • geographic link distribution – by state and country
  • inbound and outbound links – Inbound links are links on other sites that link to that URL. Outbound links are links from that URL to other sites. Internal links are links to other URLs in that same domain. For each tab, you can see the URL, the anchor text, rank, and additional SEO information.
  • duplicated content – displays URLs that have content that is the same as that of the website you are looking at.
  • page source – lets you see the source code of the page the last time it was indexed.
  • sections – shows the individual sections of the page as blekko crawls your page as well as detailed information about what links and text have been crawled.
  • site pages- detailed data per page basis.

You can also compare data to other sites, both at the domain and the url level. The only thing I wish blekko had was an easy way to export all this lovely data to CSV. Right now this is not possible, but would surely be a welcome addition for most users.

In conclusion, while  blekko data is limited to their own index,  the amount and richness of the data is a great starting point for any competitive analysis and review of personal site performance.  While checking out blekko makes sure to also head over to blekko gear to grab the toolbar, widgets, site search box or if you like a free t-shirt or some stickers.

Now it’s your turn, what do you like about blekko? How do you use it? Do you have any cool slashes that should be checked out?

Adrian Speyer

About The Author: Adrian has over 12 years experience in Digital Marketing and Analytics. He currently works as a Marketing Manager at Vanilla Forums, a modern forum software platform that allows clients to connect and engage their communities and customers. He lives and works in Montreal.

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Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 22:37