Blekko, the slashtag and spam free search engine, made some very dramatic changes to its search interface and results display. Gone, in particular, is any mention of slashtags. Blekko creates its index from the sites picked by member editors or collectors as well as through agreements with some sources. The topical areas could be accessed using a slashtag – such as /health to pick up results from a health category. Now with the new design results are grouped into the top two to four “categories” and various arrows and controls provided for expanding a group and for paging through results. Images or related searches will show in the right pane.
It’s pretty – the colours are fresh and the handling is smooth. The design owes some of its elements to Blekko’s izik search engine for the tablet and itself would play well on a tablet. In fact, they share the same front page.
Attractive as it is, it isn’t as functional as the old Blekko. Slashtags may have taken time to figure out but were useful. You could quickly use /date to sort by date or /health – because surely there was a category for it – or get suggestions from the instant search. /date may still work as a method for sorting by date but it’s harder to detect. Instead Blekko now shows a category for Latest.
The previous version also offered more function to view cache, search the source site, get similar pages, and two or three others, which I can’t find in the new version.
We can still access the old Blekko at edit.blekko.com/
Blekko never supported much syntax, but site: does still work – eg site:gc.ca senate expenses. Minus sign will exclude.
Bing tried to get away from the “10 blue link” a couple of years ago when it grouped by topic determined by its software. It did not last long. Will Blekko succeed or revert as Bing did?
Blekko announced the changes in this blog posting – Announcing a Major Blekko Site Redesign (May 29). Categories do have benefits, well expressed in this sentence:
“Displaying multiple categories for a given search term has several benefits. First and foremost, it can be very challenging for a search engine to disambiguate user intent from a vague query term such as ‘apple’ or ‘tesla’ which could trigger many different flavors of results. Is the user seeking information about Tesla electric cars, the inventor Nicola Tesla or perhaps lyrics for an 80s hair band?”
According to the press release Blekko’s user base “has grown to about 12.5 million, with more than 5 million searches a day”.