Commentary

Blekko Slashes Foodily Searches

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Will slashtags become the best friend forever of niche search engines looking to aggregate results across the Internet? For most queries, Blekko requires the searcher to insert a slashtag prior to the keyword when searching for content. The engine partnered with recipe search engine Foodily to curate search results. But if early adopters primarily use the site, Blekko engineers have some work to do before Clark Stephens' vision of reaching the "stay home mom in Mississippi" can come to fruition.

Stephens, Blekko's director of business development, said there are about five or six similar partnerships in the pipeline that the company plans to announce in the next two months. While the Blekko and Foodily agreement has been inked, searchers will not see Blekko results.

Today, if a search query doesn't contain information on a specific topic, the user is directed to the Blekko engine with a tagline that reads: Or try your search on Blekko.com. The two companies should complete the API integration within the two months, Stephens said.

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So why would a niche site consider Blekko's API integration? "The technology boosts search results above others for topics that have slashtags," Stephens said, adding that there's a benefit to be included in the slashtag and showcased as an industry expert.

The partnership follows last week's announcement on improvements through the update Stephens calls Zorro. The update not only aims to increase search relevance by pulling queries from sites known to have quality content, but provides a better understanding of how the search engine works. For instance, search for "cold remedies" and you'll find a slashtag (/health) for health, too.

When the search engine first launched, it was a bit confusing for some who felt it was unnatural to insert a slashtag in front of the keyword being searched on. The site launched with 10 topics that didn't need a slashtag for relevant results and about 300 slashtags that searchers could tap to hone in on the topic. Today, there are about 110 topics where searchers don't need to insert a slashtag to get more relevant results, and hundreds of thousands of slashtags that people have created. In the future, the site will do it for thousands -- and in the future, users will not need slashtags.

The site funded by Ron Conway, Mike Maples, and Marc Andreessen has about $24 million behind it. The tags aim to create more relevant searches by narrowing results and riding queries of spam.

 

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