Like sands through the hourglass there is nothing more predictable in the world of tech of yet another startup launching with a promise to defeat Google in search, and although it’s getting towards the end of 2010, we finally have this years first serious wannabe.
Blekko follows in the footsteps of Google wannabe’s Cuil and Wolfram Alpha before it, promising to eliminate spam search results via “its proprietary slashtag technology.”
The search engine has been in private testing for some time, and has this weekend launched into open beta with some new features.
The most significant upgrade to Blekko’s search engine is the addition of slashtags that auto-fire for queries that fall into one seven categories: health, colleges, autos, personal finance, lyrics, recipes and hotels. Every time a Blekko user’s query is determined to be in one of these categories, Blekko will automatically append the associated slashtag to the query and limit results to just the subset of URLs that fall under that slashtag.
The auto-fire functionality is designed with passive searchers in mind, and aims to eliminate friction for first time users.
Unlike its Google wannabe predecessors, we’ll concede one thing about Blekko: the search results are actually pretty good. Searches for common phrases, plus some obligatory vanity searches actually delivered exactly what we expected…although then again, so does Google.
The tagging though delivers odd results. For example, searching for Inquisitr without the slashtag actually delivers Inquisitr.com, adding the (recommended) /techblogs slashtag then removes Inquisitr.com from the results.
Not all the results are good though: a search for hotels Melbourne actually stripped out the most popular hotel booking sites in Australia and delivered a pile of obscure sites and actual hotels. A search for food guide Melbourne suggested that I use the slashtag humor.
It may be easy to suggest that this review is being a little harsh upfront without giving Blekko a serious chance, and in part that’s true. However history does repeat itself with these sorts of startups, and $24 million in funding to take on Google won’t really go all that far. Besides, is Google really so broken that it requires a startup of this nature as a replacement? The vast majority would suggest that it isn’t.
We’re not giving Blekko a Cuil award quite yet, but it sure looks like it wants to be in the running.