Blekko, the alternative search engine that launched back in 2010, unveiled a major redesign today that uses some of its “slashtag” technology to help users go beyond the usual ten blue links on its competitors search results pages. Blekko now automatically breaks its results down into different categories of curated content.
Say you are searching for “wine,” the search results page will now show you its top results and latest news about Wine, as well as expandable lists of more specific wine-related searches in categories like “alcohol,” “recipes” and “reviews.”
By default, the new Blekko always shows two results for each category, but users can click on these lists to expand them and then use arrows to sidescroll to see even more results.
Of course, you can also still use the usual Blekko tags as well (think “wine /Napa”). The redesign was built on top of the same API that powers Blekko’s oddly-named tablet-optimized search app Izik (pronounced “Isaac”).
Thanks to this new design, Blekko’s CEO Rich Skrenta says, “Blekko search results now allow users to more quickly get to great sources of information rather than scan through a list of blue links.” In this context, it’s worth noting that Google, Bing and startups like DuckDuckGo have already gone beyond those blue links anyway, thanks to projects like Google’s Knowledge Graph and Bing’s Satori Entity Engine.
The company says that it currently serves a user base of about 12.5 million users who perform about 5 million searches per day. That’s less than half a search per user per day, so it seems quite a few of these 12.5 million aren’t all that active. Skrenta, however argues that these numbers are “a great testament to our team that we’ve reached a usage level that almost no other search startup has managed to achieve in the past decade.”
Under the hood, Blekko still uses its proprietary search engine, which uses its “Dynamic Inference Graph” and a large semantic database to provide users with the categorized results.
Besides the launch of the mobile app, it’s been relatively quiet around Blekko lately. Maybe today’s redesign will kick off a new round of innovation and marketing around the service. Currently, however, it seems its competitor DuckDuckGo is winning the race with regard to mind share. The new design may change this, but it doesn’t strike me as a major breakthrough and it actually feels a bit cluttered.