Blekko Cozy Up to Webmasters, Offers Killer SEO Data Free

Both Yahoo! and Microsoft have confirmed that they will start testing the Bing algorithm live on some Yahoo! traffic this month. One of the big questions from the SEO perspective is what happens to Yahoo! Site Explorer? If it goes away then webmasters will need to get link data from web indexes built by SEO companies, perhaps either Open Site Explorer and/or Majestic SEO.

Yahoo! also offers a link: search in their BOSS program. While they have stated that the BOSS program will live on, there is little chance of the link: operator working in it over the longrun as Bing has disabled inbound link search on Bing.

Blekko Search Engine.

Blekko, which is a soon to launch search start-up, doesn't have much to lose in sharing data. In the short run anything to gain awareness will likely make them money in the longrun. And so they are doing just that:

Blekko is also showing just about all the behind the scenes data that they have to determine rank and relevancy. You can see inbound links, duplicated content and associated metadata for any domain in their index.

Blekko will also come with custom slashtags which users can use to personalize search. And end user feature for average users? Not sure. But it will be interesting to web developers & power searchers. There are already heated debates in the comments on TechCrunch on if people will use that feature. IMHO the point isn't for it to be an end user service for average searchers, but to be one which generates discussion & builds loyalty amongst power users. And clearly it is working. :D

They are also following the Jason Callus-Anus strategy of anti-SEO marketing (while giving SEOs tons of free data)

The SEO gamers, content farmers and link shoppers are not going to be happy. These guys are flooding the web with content designed to turn a profit, not inform, and the searcher pays the price. One company alone generates literally tens of thousands of pages every day that are solely designed to make money from SEO traffic. Slashtags are the perfect way to bypass them and search only the sites you like. One more reason the content farmers aren't going to be happy: we're opening up all the data that is the core foundation of their business. Link data, site data, rank data - all there for everyone to see. In one fell swoop the playing field just got leveled.

I think a core concept which many search engines have forgot (in an attempt to chase Google) is that if you have a place in the hearts and minds of webmasters & web developers then they will lead other users to your service.

Money is one way to buy loyalty. And Google will pay anyone to syndicate their ads, no matter what sort of externalities that leads to. But now the web is polluted with content mills. Which is an opportunity for Blekko to differentiate.

Since Yahoo! is a big publisher they had mixed incentives on this front. They do share a lot of cool stuff, but they are also the same company which just disappeared the default online keyword research tool and replaced it with nothing, and they recently purchased a content mill. This was a big area where Bing could have won. They created a great SEO guide & are generally more receptive to webmaster communications, but they have fumbled following redirects & have pulled back on the data they share. Further, if you look at Bing's updated PPC guidelines, you will see that they are pushing out affiliates and chasing the same brand ad Dollars which Google wants. Bing will be anything but desperate for marketshare after they get the Yahoo! deal in place.

Blekko goes one further than the traditional sense of "open" for their launch. They not only give you the traditional open strategy:

Furthermore, we intend to be fully open about our crawl and rank data for the web. We don't believe security through obscurity is the best way to drive search ranking quality forward. So we have a set of tools on which let you understand what factors are driving our rankings, and let you dive behind any url or site to see what their web search footprint looks like.

but they also offer a "Search Bill of Rights" which by default other search companies can't follow (based on their current business models):

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

And so based on the above they appeal to...

  • anyone who submits themselves to the open ideology
  • journalists who hate content mills
  • searchers who hate junk search results
  • SEOs & webmasters who like free data
  • programmers who like to hack and tweak
  • people interested in personal freedom & privacy

From a marketing perspective, their site hasn't even launched yet and there is *at least* a half-dozen different reasons to talk about them! Pretty savvy marketing. :D

Published: July 20, 2010 by Aaron Wall in marketing


July 20, 2010 - 6:12am

There's definitely a precedent for power users leading the pack - Google was an upstart engine used mostly by geeks in the early years. But as useful as Blekko might be for SEOs and webmasters, they'll still face an uphill battle to monetize with the amount of cash angel investors and VCs have thrown at them.

Cuil, Wolfram Alpha, and others have done little to change the search landscape recently - and it remains to be seen if anyone can stop the runaway train that is Google. I hope Blekko survives - and if not as a search engine, hopefully as an alternative source of SEO data and a change from the status quo.

Blekko, if you're reading can I get an invite? :)

July 25, 2010 - 1:30am

A lot of this stuff is over my head, but I am amazed at how much you guys are in the loop and how much you know. I am thankful just to follow behind you and learn this SEO stuff from you.

Keep the great insight and information coming!

July 20, 2010 - 7:14am

Assuming they have good enough data, I think a Wikinomics approach to search could be a game changer. If you read th book Wikinomics, plenty of companies that went outside their doors for innovation arrived at some very profitable discoveries. Question remains if they'll have prizes for best algo and how they get people to use their engine when average users don't obviously see Google being broke.

July 20, 2010 - 8:07am

I don't think they need to have the best core relevancy to win. All they really have to do is be perceived as being similar in relevancy AND have reasons for people to talk about them / give them free marketing AND have a somewhat different result set AND publicly state a differentiation (like no content mills, etc.) AND try to offer a form of lock in that adds value & can be social.

  • I think their relevancy likely will be similar (simply by excluding a lot of the junk sites they will do well on that front. all the other search engines are conflicted on that front as Yahoo! bought a content mill, Yahoo! is Bing's most important partner, and Google AdSense funds most of the content mills
  • people are already discussing them a lot (before their launch, and for many reasons)
  • they described ways they will differentiate (like the slash filter)
  • and they allow you to share your hashes with others (social + lock in)

Not sure if they are going to take another round of capital, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a stake if I could...that is something I told my wife when they were first announced a few years ago, and my conviction has only grown since then! :D

July 20, 2010 - 1:31pm

I'm looking forward to testing Blekko and especially the slashtags. Regardless of how well the product is received, I admire their guts for taking on such an apparently herculean endeavor. I just visited their site for the first time and "liked" it to get on their invitation list.

July 20, 2010 - 1:36pm

Thanks for the tip, Aaron ; )

July 20, 2010 - 1:44pm

I personnaly like their Marketing strategy to make the Buzz around their launch soon but the fact is, playing social can be dangerous if they don't prove to be better or at least even good as the major player... would one actually change his homepage, habits, etc... for a new player without even knowing if he's worth it?
I'll surely try Blekko for the Slash story and see if they're as "open" as they mention.
PS: I first thought the Chart was a joke... they dare! ;)

PPS: Aaron, I translated/revamped your article to French and put it on my website ( where I mentioned as the source... any problem with that

July 20, 2010 - 4:28pm

Thanks for the syndication Sethciv :)

July 20, 2010 - 3:49pm

Ok, after watching the video and trying to think of how this new Blekko thing will help search results. I will say its probably one of the smartest ideas that has came a long in some time.

Me personally I'm getting sick and tired of the ehow myself, and I think this will be something new for us to debate on when it go live.

TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

July 20, 2010 - 4:01pm

3. Ranking data shall not be kept secret
9. Spam does not belong in search results

Call me crazy but don't the two points above from their "Bill of Rights" completely cancel each other out?

Sure it sounds great from a PR/spin standpoint and it's a feel good Utopian thing to shoot for but let's get real, people will spam the holy hell out of them just based on these two points and their claims of delivering spam free results.

I imagine at first they can somewhat deliver on these claims because they will have practically no user base (outside the technology influencers giving them a spin) so they could say "Look at our results they are so pretty and garbage free, check us out"

But when/if they get any real volume of users that could translate into financial incentives for site owners to optimize for them, they spam floodgates will open and they'll be drowned.

If Google can't/won't control it with their vast resources call me a huge skeptic that they can pull it off.

If they can then we would truly be seeing a new player in the game and I'll take satisfaction that I was completely wrong....but I doubt it :-)

July 20, 2010 - 4:26pm

I agree that a lot of it is marketing Jeremy...but I suppose if you don't have grandiose goals & mission statements then you don't get the press coverage. :D

July 20, 2010 - 6:41pm

But the differentiating feature are the query refinement tools they call Slashtags. These tools, like /news or /date or /amazon or /blogs, or any combination, make it very simple to quickly filter results to what you are looking for.

eeww weee... very innovative to say the least! Then you add in the social aspect out the gate... because you have to follow them or like them on facebook to get an invite that creates more buzz..

your right aaron

is that if you have a place in the hearts and minds of webmasters & web developers then they will lead other users to your service.

Sure it sounds great from a PR/spin standpoint and it's a feel good Utopian thing to shoot for but let's get real, people will spam the holy hell out of them just based on these two points and their claims of delivering spam free results

if you a nice message/story that is worth sharing and make it easy to share you can even become president ;) ...

July 26, 2010 - 10:11pm

If more and more services adopt the social, "Likes" and "Tweets" model in ranking then what is to stop a company from setting up massive social networks in economically suppressed regions to help influence their rankings in the engines with spam likes, tweets and such? It would be cheaper to set up a social network than maintaining a content mill. Further, if the social networks work for shoring up results then it should work for slashing them down. It should be interesting to see how the system deals with aggressive competitors who hire an "anti-social" firm to slash the competition out of the results.

Which leads to the next question, what would the re-inclusion process or a "Blekko Band-Aid" if you will, for those sites that are wrongly slashed?

August 16, 2010 - 10:10pm

Thanks for the tip

August 30, 2010 - 7:25pm

have been playing with blekko for a while now, and am really starting to like it, have been using it as a daily search. not sure how many 'normal' users would switch, but for the more advanced searcher, its pretty cool

Jessie R
November 17, 2010 - 5:25pm

I've been doing some research of all these new search engines, and I like Blekko. I think it's interesting, new and different. However, it's a little too "out there" for the average person. Coming from someone who doesn't have a lot of time on her hands, I don't want to have to "learn" how to use a new search engine! I didn't know what slashtags were and I had to take some time to understand them. I don't think a lot of people are going to want to do that.

I did come across another search engine that I like the best. It's called Bweezy, and while that may sound similar, it's completely different. I am addicted to Google, and Bweezy offers Google results. It also lets you open search results in the same window as the search, so it saves you from opening tabs! That's my favorite feature. Blekko is more cutting edge, but Bweezy is easier to use.

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