Human touch search engine to can web spam
A small Silicon Valley company with big-name backers has announced a test version of a new search engine that the company says has a key ingredient that is missing from Google, the human touch.
According to Blekko, the web has increasingly become saturated with spam-like websites, specially designed to pop up in Google’s search results, but whose content is heavier on marketing pitches than substantive information.
The remedy, said Blekko chief executive Rich Skrenta, is to narrow searches to groups of websites that people, not computers, have pre-approved as being the best sources of information for particular topics.
The approach is old-school in an industry where computer algorithms developed by engineers at Google and Microsoft are considered the ideal way to find information in the sea of online data.
Give me the information I need in an efficient way so I don’t have to go wading through all this nonsense
Blekko has raised $24 million in funding as it has developed its product over the past three years, with angel investors including Marc Andreessen, the creator of the first web browser, and Ron Conway, who has also invested in tech companies Twitter, Foursquare and even Google.
Greg Sterling, an internet consultant and a contributing editor for the blog Search Engine Land, said he didn’t expect Blekko to displace Google any time soon. But he said the company had developed a creative approach to search that might become popular as a secondary search engine for certain types of queries.
Blekko is launching with a directory of websites that can provide spam-free results in seven general search categories: health, recipes, song lyrics, hotels, automobiles, colleges and personal finance.
Blekko also allows users to create their own personal directories of websites for any topic, so that the search engine only looks for information from sources the user deems relevant or trustworthy.
The focus on quality websites over quantity has appeal, said Sterling.
“We don’t care if there are 30 million results or 40 million results, it’s really ‘Give me the information I need in an efficient way so I don’t have to go wading through all this nonsense’,” he said.