Today, a new search engine opened its doors to the public. And I may go use it to alter the way the word sees things that are important to me improve the way search works.
Don’t you love the Internet?
If you go to Blekko, you’ll see that the results it spits out are very different from those generated by Google. In and of itself that isn’t a surprise, since what comes out of a search engine is of course controlled by the software behind it. But the question becomes: is Blekko any better?
The best way to begin answering that question is to define what you mean by “good search”. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, “bigger” and “better” aren’t the same if the results of bigger overwhelm you. Certainly there’s something to be said for filtered search results.
But what’s the filter? Can you trust the results you get if you don’t know what’s making them come up the way they do?
At Blekko, the pitch is that their results are curated by users. So for example if you click this link to the results for “Answer Guy” on Blekko you’ll see that as of this writing Blekko thinks that answerguy.com is the most important result on the Internet for the phrase answer guy.
We, of course, agree that when you type “answer guy” into a search engine it should point you here. But Google doesn’t think so. Why does Blekko?
The cool thing about Blekko is that when you search for something the results it gives you include a few extra pieces of information. So if you’re inclined to spend time on the subject you can see where a site gets its juice from in the Blekko results.
And one of the things you can do when you find a link is mark it as spam. Meaning that over time, assuming Blekko’s self-curated angle isn’t abused, good stuff will rise in rankings and junk will drop until it disappears.
In other words, whatever Blekko starts with its results are ultimately going to be crowd-sourced. Whatever is popular is also going to be viewed as best.
At the same time, you can create information and cram it into Blekko. For example, I’ve claimed my surname on Blekko as my user name. That’s appropriate, actually, but you have to believe that I’ve managed to tip the scales in my favor a bit; hereafter, a search on Yablon will weigh more heavily in my favor than it did before. Because I say so.
And while Blekko currently sees my LinkedIn profile as the most important “Jeff Yablon” and answerguy.com as the second most important reference to my name (thank you, Blekko!), remove the “Jeff” and those two links are ranked at only #13 and #14.
So Blekko, in trying to be a better Google than Google, is relying on trust. And trust is in question.
But it always will be. Even Google’s posts are polluted by their own spin on the issue. I’ve uncovered and am about to publish a paper on the secret sauce behind the way Google creates and manipulates their search results, so look for that in the next few days. I promise, you’ll be unhappy.
In the meantime, play with Blekko. And ask yourself: is this what I want my search engine to be?