How will the new generation of search engines impact entrepreneurs? Inbound Marketing has search engines at the core of the process and we must keep our eyes open to the potential changes.
Blekko: The Next Generation of Search Engines
For those of us who are in the business of blogging, or alternatively, who are blogging for our business, keeping tabs on the vast industry that rests on the back of SEO practices is absolutely instrumental. At the same time, however, it is no easy task.
As the Internet expands its breadth and scope, search engines are our only guide through the uncharted Amazonian forest that has become the Web 2.0 as we know it. Of course, Google is really the only viable player in the field right now. It is, no exaggeration, the ultimate search engine powerhouse, the ghost behind the machinery. Just as with all monopolies and superpower nations, they inevitably take a hard fall or at least they slowly disappear into irrelevance and obsolescence. Google has come under fire for many of its practices, not least of which is the secrecy of its algorithms as well as the ease with which it enables useless content farms to top search engines. Although Google recently took some steps to change the content farm problem, the criticism is far from over.
And now other players are vying for slice of the search engine pie. One of the most notable, Blekko.com, was launched in November 2010. Although still in its beta testing stage, this new search engine has been well-reviewed by tech experts and has garnered almost 180,000 unique visitors in February 2011 according to Compete Analytics. As the search engine becomes more sophisticated, the numbers will surely grow.
For those of you who have not yet heard of Blekko, here's how it works:
While Google finds relevant searches using an algorithm that is continually tweaked and user tested (although extremely secret), Blekko uses human intervention to knock out poor quality sites.
In addition to several thousand Blekko editors, users participate in much the same way Wikipedia draws on user-editors to police shoddy information.
Although this is certainly a vast undertaking, leveraging the power of the Wiki-style checks and balances system enables astronomic amounts of information to be tamed and pruned, as it were.
One way in which a Blekko user can refine their search results is to use or create slash tags.
For example, if you want to find out more information about the various treatments for Alzheimer's disease, and you add the slashtag "/health" to your search query, Blekko will only search the top 100 health sites as selected by its editors.
While Blekko created several slashtags before its release, users can create their own slashtags, too. And slashtags do not only focus on topics; they have other functionalities too. For example, "/date" will give you listings by date. article on MetaVisibility gives a more thorough explanation of the slashtag system.
For those of us who are into SEO, Blekko has committed to keeping the search engine as open as possible, providing tons of valuable data on each and every site. From the number of sites that link to a particular site to crawl data to index information and more, Blekko makes SEO information very easy to access. Although SearchEngineLand has noted that the Blekko data doesn't necessarily reflect the data from Google traffic (which, to bloggers and business owners, matters more), its data will surely become more relevant as Blekko gains popularity.
Of course, it's way too early to tell at this point if Blekko and search engines like it will ever be able to surmount the Google behemoth.
What's more important, however, is to know that there is a demand for alternatives to Google, one that will surely grow as Google becomes more ad-centric. In this sense, bloggers and Internet marketers should always remember that quality, human-focused content comes first.
It may not pay off initially, and we may be tempted to game the Google system with shortcuts, but black hat or even gray hat techniques will eventually be seen for what they are cheap tricks that jip the user.