Blekko said Nov. 9 that users made more than 1 million queries per day and created more than 30,000 slashtags in the curated search engine’s first week in public beta.
Launched Nov. 1, Blekko tries a crowd-sourced approach to search results to help users better pinpoint answers. The idea is to provide an alternative to the traditional machine-generated search from Google, Bing and Yahoo.
See the eWEEK tour of Blekko here.
Blekko’s key curation feature is called the slashtag, which groups the search queries people define on Blekko within the search box. Blekko said that after one week it is applying slashtags automatically on 8 percent of its searches.
I’m far less impressed with this number, seeing as how the slashtag is what differentiates Blekko from the incumbent search engines. I argued here last week that:
“Once these vertical searches are established, or users find existing slashtags, Blekko becomes a blast to use. It’s getting to that point that sucks and it will be work, not fun, for the bulk of users who try it.“
I stand by that statement. We’ll see if Blekko can grow those slashtag numbers to make the search engine a viable competitor. It’s a tough market out there versus Google; just ask Ask.com.
Blekko was naturally ecstatic:
“We are flattered and obviously pleasantly surprised at the enthusiastic response to Blekko,” Blekko CEO and founder Rich Skrenta said in a statement. “We’re glad to have gotten off to a great start and we’re thrilled about the new features we will be adding to the site in the next few weeks.”
He shouldn’t be. While the vast majority of Google searchers find it “good enough,” there is a bubble of power users in Silicon Valley — and I mean it, they are mostly in SV — who are dying for an alternative to Google. That’s why Powerset, Cuil and Wowd launched.
Update: Skrenta comments below that the bulk of early users are not in SV. I’m clearly getting ahead of myself and prognosticating; these search engines tend to start strong. As usage wanes, bloggers and other tech nerds in SV tend to hang on.
New search startups are not misguided, but they’re overly optimistic in the face of the giant. Blekko sees 1 million queries each day? Google has 1 billion searchers, logging billions of queries per day. Herculean is the mountain that is Google.
I do like Blekko’s pitch this week; instead of simply spitting out stats, it is enlisting:
“Blekko wants to build a volunteer army to help clean up web search, asking human editors to identify the highest quality sites for Blekko to search for every category. Blekko’s initial goal is to identify the 50 best sites on the Web for the top 100,000 search categories.“
Blekko editors will organize categories of content and can invite others to help build search categories and collaborate with teams and other Blekko users on a community platform.
Rock on Blekko, rock on. I’m rooting for you like you’re Rudy.