Search Engine Blekko Borrows Tablet Format For Desktop

Blekko-B3Reversing the succession of events, Blekko cofounder and CEO Rich Skrenta integrated features from its tablet app izik to make the desktop search engine look and feel more like a mobile application.

The search engine evolved from a curated list of slashtags to a visually pleasing site organized by categories. Tabs toggle searchers looking for content between Web, Video and Images. Users have a variety of filtering options, depending on the search term or query.

Search under the Web tab for Apple-related content and categories down the left rail will offer Top Results, News, Apple, Recipes, Reviews and Tech. The search term "Cabernet" will serve up Alcohol, Wine, Recipes and Latest.

The back-end technology relies on the ROCKZi social application programming interface built to support segmenting content in categories. The categories allow the engine to analyze the semantic meaning of words and search intent, allowing searchers to quickly scan pages and drill down into a topical area without loading a new page. An expandable tab increases two results to five, allowing searchers to scroll through content similar to swiping a pointer finder across a tablet or a smartphone screen.

The new layout also supports more results on one page. The responsive design adjusts to several screen sizes, such as desktop to tablet. The company will add smartphones by Q3 2013.

Blekko experimented with paid-search ads on the prior site, but the new site doesn't offer the service yet. Search produces the highest revenue per page view, where the term "San Francisco accident lawyer" can generate about $50 per click on the average engine, according to Skrenta, who was formerly the founder of Topix and an AOL exec who worked on AOL Shopping.

Tablet design continues to influence future Blekko features. Tablet shipments are expected to grow 58.7% to 229.3 million units this year compared with last, according to IDC. The research firm estimates tablet shipments will exceed portable PCs this year.

Bleeko Director of Product Management Chris Zimdars believes the tablet user interface format will make it easier for those searching the Web to find information across devices. "Publishers will evolve the desktop experience as more people want the functionality of tablets on desktop," he said.

About 12.5 million users conduct about 5 million searches daily on the search engine, which relies on what Skrenta calls the Dynamic Inference Graph, a semantic database that uses algorithms to map queries to thousands of categories.

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