Blekko uses slashes to simplify advanced search


Blekko is the latest search engine to come down the pike. I'm not sure it intends to go after Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) anytime soon, but it does try to change the search dynamic by using slashes to narrow the focus of your search, essentially bringing faceted search to the search box. It's not really a new idea, but the approach is subtly different. 

Blekko also:

  • Lets you save and share your searches with your friends and the public at large giving it a social element missing from Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
  • Lets you mark a search result as Spam. If you see a search result you don't like or you consider Spam, you can get mark it as such and they say it will never show up in your results again.
  • Provides insight into how it arrives at the results it does bringing some welcome transparency to the process instead of Google's black box approach.

But aside from the bells and whistles, which are certainly interesting differentiators, anyone who knows his/her way around a search engine has been using slash-like behavior for some time in the Advanced Search features. 

Let's say you want to do a search for baseball in New York. Using Blekko might enter:

baseball /new york

If you wanted to narrow it to the old New York baseball team, the Giants, you might enter:

baseball /new york /giants

Those who have used advanced search features might do this instead:

Baseball AND New York AND Giants

By the way, I tried these two searches in Blekko and Google. Blekko did not have a reference to the New York baseball Giants in the entire first page of results, whereas Google had the San Francisco Giants first (which they became after moving from New York in 1957), then the rest of the page of results were all about the New York baseball Giants.

If you want to narrow it by date, you use /date. Again, you can go into the Advanced search features in Google or any search engine and do the same thing.

Blekko is trying to bill itself as something new and exciting by creating a simplified command line for the search box, but it's essentially Advanced and faceted search in a new social package. It might be good for certain types of searches, but I don't see it replacing one of the Big 3 any time soon, especially in the mobile space where building complex searches using slashes could be problematic.

For more information:
- see the Blekko About page

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