SEO Pros Flock To Blekko In Post-Yahoo Site Explorer Landscape

Pubcon video content producer Vanessa Zamora spoke with Blekko chief executive and founder Rich Skrenta for the first time since their Pubcon 2010 interview that took place just a few weeks after Skrenta’s search engine firm launched November 2010. The search engine, referred to as the spam-free search engine or slash-tag search engine, was originally positioned around slash tags, allowing users to curate the Web, according to Skrenta. Blekko offers a tool kit enabling users to build their own vertical search engine on any topic, Skrenta added, but because a lot of users were unfamiliar with the functionality of slash tags, Blekko developed technology to match relevant slash tags with general queries, a development that was deployed in the middle of last year.

Skrenta attributes the 400 percent increase in traffic this year to a number of factors. One change that factored into the increase in traffic, according to Skrenta, was the discontinuation of Yahoo’s Site Explorer product, resulting in search engine optimization (SEO) professionals flocking to the Blekko search engine to register for free SEO data, including a back-link tool, the ability to see inbound links, anchor text, duplicate text, where links originate geographically, and basically anything else that is obtained when the search engine crawls a website. Secondly, an index update at the end of 2011 made search engine results return a lot faster and improved Blekko on long tail queries leading to greater user satisfaction, Skrenta shared. Additionally, last year Blekko updated their privacy policy so user data is deleted within 48 hours of a search and immediately on request, said Skrenta, who also shared that he thinks as privacy has become more of a concern to users, Blekko has matched that desire with the intent to have the best privacy policy of any search engine. Skrenta said that Blekko’s high participation at industry events, both the obvious and not-so-obvious, has served as sort of a marketing R&D project, revealing information such as the fact that librarians are a very important target market for the Blekko search engine.

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When asked if Skrenta has a goal date for when he would like to see Blekko catch up to Google in traffic, Skrenta said the search engines goal is to stay focused on providing spam-free search, not on indexing every piece of information on the Web like Google. What Google does they do well, Skrenta said, noting also that his firm wants to succeed at something different and give consumers an editorial alternative in search. Skrenta said Blekko provides their own point of view with regards to results in the search engine, much like there is a difference in what is delivered via newspaper publications such as The New York Times or the BBC.

In terms of future plans for monetization, Skrenta said tests have commenced with partner firms showing standard advertising on the right and top of the page, and Blekko will be likely continue to roll out more advertising over the course of the year.

Skrenta attributed his ongoing success to daily exercise, a healthy diet, and sleep. “There are so many stresses when working at a start-up,” Skrenta said, “you have to drag yourself outside – it’s key.” Skrenta also said that he tries to stay on top of all the industry trends, but stressing that most important is to maintain a connection with those people working alongside you. Being in a start-up is like a roller coaster, every start-up is like that, and there are times when you have the night terrors and nausea, so you have to stay on the boat, eat right, exercise and have a good attitude, Skrenta concluded.