It’s hard not to have a soft spot for Blekko. Not only have they willingly stood up against Google, Bing, and every other search site that dwarfs Blekko’s user base, but they’ve done so with innovation and a surprising amount of success. Recently, Blekko made its first major update since launch. Known as Zorro, this change impacts both the aesthetics of the site and how prominently curated results play into search.
Rich Skrenta, the company CEO, was interviewed on Blekko’s strategy in the Zorro update, especially as it involved human curation. Besides changing the colors of links and streamlining the design, a major change was that curated results – known as “slashtags” – are now automatically applied to many searches. “We initially integrated slashtags for 10 sites into our standard results,” said Skrenta. “Now we are incorporating hundreds.” Other discussion of the Zorro update have put the figure for automatically applied slashtags to over 1,000, although that still comprises only about 1% of the slashtags that currently exist.
The reason, says Skrenta, is the need for curation. “We’ve reached a tipping point on the web where it is easier to white list the set of good sites than black-list the set of bad sites,” said Skrenta. He continues to give this example: “The top 100 health sites will answer all your health questions. You don’t want to search outside that set of sites.” But that’s a point that raises plenty of controversy. If catering to established good sites and away from low-quality sites is the mode of thinking, then how do new sites break in? How, if not algorithmically, can you appeal to Blekko’s sensibilities? Skrenta’s response is simple. “We constantly review sites for quality and our users continually identify quality sites for us.”
[Sources include: Web Pro News]