From its launch, Blekko has striven to be the outsider, the search engine that could deliver highly accurate, relevant results without the spam. This, of course, is a direct challenge to Google, which, while it is the world’s largest search engine with a 65 percent market share, is known to have a bit of a spam problem. This strategy, and some key news coverage, has worked well for the small startup engine, and they have seen a dramatic rise in visits over the first quarter of 2011.
Blekko rung in the new year with about 500,000 monthly unique visitors, which is not high by Google or Facebook standards, but it is more than respectable. A piece in the New York Times reports that by May, Blekko had increased that figure by another quarter million. Pieces like that published by the NYT help raise Blekko’s profile, as do high test alliances, like the one Blekko has with Facebook. The search engine incorporates Facebook Likes into its results. You can use Facebook Connect to create the slashtag “/likes” and your results will include sites that you and your connections have liked. If, for instance, you are looking for a hotel to book for a trip to New York, you can search the choices made by connections.
Through other initiatives, like the policy of trashing personal information after 48 hours and powering Flipboard RSS feed searchers, Blekko has stealthily moved its way into diverse corners of the search market.
Of course, Blekko’s biggest claim to fame is offering human-curated results, which help eliminate spam. The Spam Clock, for instance, is much like population counters or tickers that allow you to see the national deficit inching up dollar by dollar. It is “designed to give a representation of how quickly the Web is being littered with trash. Honestly, it’s a problem that deserves more attention than it is getting. Soon, surfing the Web will be a worse experience than email. And Spam is quickly becoming responsible for a kind of global sweatshop where people are paid little more than a nickel for creating web pages designed to do nothing but display advertising.”
The engine that “slashes the web” is also hoping to slash into Google’s piece of the market. And if the two should come to be rivals? Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta says, “That’s a problem you want to have.”