New blog search engine Sphere launched just moments ago and has also announced a $3.75 million round of venture financing. In addition to covering the launch of Sphere here, we have a podcast interview with CEO Tony Conrad and advisor Toni Schneider over at TalkCrunch.
Sphere, which follows in the footsteps of previous blog search engines like Feedster, Technorati and IceRocket, as well as offerings from Google and Yahoo, is doing things quite a bit differently than its predecessors (and its evolved dramatically since our first look at it back in October).
Sphere’s design, by the way, was created by Adaptive Path. See their essay on the project here.
The site is segmented into three main areas: blog search results, featured blogs, and related media.
Blog Search Results
Sphere search results can be viewed by date, relevance or a combination of both. Unlike Technorati, which determines a blog’s relevance based on the total number of unique links into that blog, Sphere is taking an algorithmic approach. For Sphere, “relevance” is based on three key factors: links in/out of blog; meta data around the blog (average length of posts, post frequency, etc; and a semantic analysis of the posts themselves). In our tests Sphere blog relevance is very good. We’ll do a more in depth review and comparison at a later date.
Another feature is a “custom date search”. In addition to preset date selections, if you do a custom date search by selecting it in the drop down box, you’ll get results just for that date range and you’ll also see a day by day breakdown showing results per day with the included term.
Each search result has a link to a blog profile that includes basic blog information (links in and out, average post frequency and length and additional information). In the future an extended profile for each blog will be available that will include information from the blogger as well, such as a photo, a zip code for geotagging, and topics the blog covers.
The most relevant blogs for thousands of search terms are listed in the “featured results” area.
If you don’t see search results for what you are looking for, click over the the most highly rated blogs for your search term to research further. These results are based on the same algorithmic analysis as blog search.
Want to go beyond blogs for your research? Click on “related media” and see related pictures, news, books and podcasts relevant to your query.
As great as the basic search platform is, what I like best about Sphere is in the Tools area. Install the “Sphere It” bookmarklet and click it whenever you are reading something that you’d like more information on. Sphere will analyze the page in real time and present blog search results that are relevant to that topic. It’s important to note that this is not a search to find blogs linking into that page you are viewing; rather you are finding fresh blog content that is related to the subject matter of what you are reading. I’ve tested this and find it extremely useful.
Congratulations to the Sphere team for getting this launched, and taking blog seach another step or two forward.