Google is the first choice in search for more than 65 percent of the Web, while
the shared efforts of Microsoft and Yahoo have earned Bing the market’s only
other significant share. But the most successful Web professionals are those
who explore all of their options; and for additional choices in search, look no
further than the following list.
When Blekko launched back in November 2010, there were plenty
of doubters who didn’t expect the startup search engine to last more
than a year. While that may not be guaranteed just yet, Blekko is
making good on its promise of creating a new and exciting alternative
Blekko’s mission, some three years in the making before its actual
launch, was to enlist human editors in an effort to eliminate spam
and personalize and socialize the search experience. The team of 25
or so employees includes former Google and Yahoo search engineers
and the project has received significant backing from some of the
best-known investors in the tech world, including Marc Andreessen
and Ron Conway.
The magic behind the Blekko vision was to use programmingrelated
slashtags or topic tags to create the most relevant search verticals
for users. Those very users would be among the editors
curating and maintaining the slashtags, and after three months
Blekko reported that it had more than 110,000 human-curated tags.
Blekko clearly could not compete with the size and scope of
Google’s or Bing’s indexes, but what it could — and does — do is produce
more relevant, more accurate, better search results. Before
Google made headlines around the globe with its Farmer Update
algorithm changes, Blekko had removed the very same content farms
(and many more) from its search index as a matter of standard practice
— and to much less fanfare.
But what it may lack in publicity Blekko has made up for in terms
of a devoted user base. Its January 2011 numbers indicated an average
of 1 million queries per day and between 10 to 15 queries per second.
And Google and Bing’s own publicity does them as much harm as
good — the controversy over Bing’s “stolen” search results and Google’s
paid links scandal with J.C. Penney being just two recent examples.
Perhaps that’s why Blekko and the alternative search options
below have become favorites for many SEOs and Web professionals
of every kind.
Blekko recently forged a partnership with fellow startup search engine
DuckDuckGo (DDG), in which the two companies share technologies
and information in the name of improving the quality of
search results for users. The partnership is sure to evolve over time,
say the CEOs of both companies, but right now DDG receives
access to Blekko’s auto-fired slashtags in seven categories (health,
colleges, autos, personal finance, lyrics, recipes and hotels) in return
for use of DDG’s proprietary feature, zero-click info.
Similar to Google’s Instant Search, zero-click info gives users the
most relevant information on websites and search terms without
having to click on search results. Local business listings from Yelp,
word definitions from The Free Dictionary, Wikipedia entries and
content from 13 additional StackExchange sites are some examples
of information users can find with zero-click results.
Like Blekko, DuckDuckGo has developed quite a following and
averages more than 5 million searches per month.
Greplin is a user-authorized search engine that can search and index
social services and applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn,
Gmail, Google Docs, Evernote, Basecamp, Salesforce and more, and
it’s adding more all the time. The startup recently announced the addition
of a Chrome extension to its search presence so that users can
now search their social data directly from the browser without having
to go to Greplin’s website. The creation of a 19-year-old
entrepreneur from Israel, Greplin may be the best known of a growing
number of services such as CloudMagic that are designed for
searching users’ social graphs for personal data and those hard-tofind
items that often get lost in the cloud.
Wajam is another socially driven search tool, but unlike Greplin it
returns its results as part of your experience with Google or Bing.
Where Greplin searches only the applications that have been preauthorized
by the user, Wajam searches the entire Web but with an
emphasis on returning personalized results from Facebook, Twitter
and other social sites a user has bookmarked. It is used as a
browser extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and
Internet Explorer, and injects these social results into the search
queries submitted to larger engines.
Quora is the extremely popular new platform that strives to be the
definitive question-and-answer site for just about any topic on the
Web. Like Blekko, it is largely human-driven and invites users to
ask questions, provide answers and share their knowledge and
comments. Questions are organized into different categories that
can also be created by users, leading to a wide range and growing
index of topical information.
Nobody believes that these solutions will threaten Google’s
dominance in the world of search any time soon, least of all the
people behind each service. But most of them seem to be much
more focused on improving the Web by providing a better way to
Just like Google was when it first launched.