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Blekko. Slashtag search engine launches: an opportunity to simplify #ehealth searches?

Posted on Tuesday, 2nd November, 2010

Will the emergence of the new search engine Blekko simplify search efforts for patients?

Searching for health-related information is confusing and can be overwhelming. Do you start with Google or Microsoft Bing? OR, now Blekko which offers a real differentiator in how search results are served up to information seekers, based on their customized search criteria? Blekko brings that in the form of /slashtags.

The main differentiator of Blekko is the ‘slashtag’. Slashtags are essentially filters for search results.

(click on all images to enlarge them)

The search engine, which launched in public beta testing today November 1, 2010, claims differentiation and improvement over Google in its design to weed out spam and sites who otherwise game the SEO system to appear at the top of organic results, even if their content isn’t relevant to the search keywords used.

Take a look at Blekko’s great video- walks you through “how to slash the web”. A worthwhile 3 minutes to understand how it works.

blekko: how to slash the web from blekko on Vimeo.

Might this improve the search journey for information seeking individuals?

Not so sure. Not as simple as it seems.

Core slashtags are maintained/defined by the community, (via Wikipedia) and consist of a list of domains that are considered “authoritative”.¬† Blekko has started with a handful of built in slashtags as well as topics for slashtags. (See below for example of available slashtags- not too many- and they are very basic in nature).
Built-In types of searches
Built-In topics

Pros/Cons

The great (and not so great) attribute to this search engine is that the user can actually define their own slashtags and add them to the public directory (or keep them private) al a Wikipedia style). Might be great for those already defined. BUT I took a stab at creating my own slashtag for a custom search.

  • infertility/treatments (I wanted a listing of infertility treatments) very basic.

Take a look at the process of creating your own slashtag

Step 1: take a look at the 3 slashtags that are automatically available. Not many

Step 2: Take a look at “How to add your own slashtag”

Step 3: Take a look at how to search for the websites YOU want to add to your own slashtag

Step 4: Finalizing your own slashtag

A couple thoughts on this process

  • It wasn’t that easy and it took 6 minutes.
  • I am a tech/search savvy person– I would guess most are not, and may not go through this regimen to really customize their own search (most don’t know what they are searching for or what is constituted as authoritative when looking at search results).

Who might benefit most from this search tool?

Companies? Brands? Marketers?
Adding their own brand, site or community to slashtags they want to be associated with? Similar to Wikipedia? Hmm….

Who might use this tool to simplify their search needs?

This might be a great tool for researchers and students looking to refine their search efforts to net them the closest match to their search terms, to display result and sources of quality related content.
Would patients use this search engine to look for health-related information? Perhaps. But it might be too soon to tell- perhaps the more empowered internet search savvy patients? But only 1 day out from launch, my initial gut feeling tells me this is just a little too confusing for the population at this point.
Blekko expects that the quality of search results will improve as more people add more tags (and remove irrelevant ones) to organize the Web pages. Currently, Blekko has 3 billion Web pages in its index; Google has more than a trillion.
I will definitely keep my eye on this tool, and how the public usage responds to the algorithm; especially how/if marketers move toward utilizing this for desired search results associated with their brands.
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