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Social Search – Blekko’s More Aggressive Approach

Blekko CEO: Google and Bing are "conservative" in social

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It’s no secret that search and social are overlapping more and more. In fact, Ted Ulle of Converseon told us last year that he believed the two would eventually unite and be called something like, integrated media marketing, or IMM.

Do you see search and social coming together as one entity? Let us know your thoughts.

It’s clear that social is an important element of search since search engines have not only made several attempts with social products, but they have also tried integrating it into their results. At this point, Bing integrates Facebook Likes, and Google integrates Twitter into its results.

Blekko however, added some heat to the race to merge search and social when it recently announced a further integration with Facebook. It had previously integrated Facebook Likes, but after last week’s announcement, incorporates Facebook Comments into its results as well.

Rich Skrenta, Blekko’s CEO and Co-founder, told us, “Basically, taking all of that data – the likes as well as the comments – and projecting it out onto the Web to, basically, give you just one more layer of understanding what you’re doing in search.”

Although Google did recently roll out its +1 product in an effort to become more social, it’s still too early to see if this feature is the answer to Google’s social woes.

“It’s interesting that they’re trying to boot up their own social experience with +1 rather than tapping into one of the existing massive social systems that are already out there,” said Skrenta.

Incidentally, he did say that he would take Google’s +1 data if they made it available.

Ever since its launch last year, Blekko has been focused on keeping spam out of search. Skrenta has stated many times that the Web is overly saturated with spam. Referring to Google’s spam issues, specifically, he said the quality signal that Google pulls from a Web page and uses for ranking is actually really low. For this reason, he believes that a Facebook user is “more valid than a random Web page.”

“If you take a random Facebook user, first of all, it’s likely to be a human, and second of all, if you can restrict it to the people that are in your social circle, since people don’t generally follow spammers, the signal is much higher,” he explained.

According to him, both Google and Bing are being “conservative” in their social efforts, which is why Blekko is trying to be more aggressive in its own approach.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Google or Bing responds to Blekko’s latest social initiative. Do you think they will?

Social Search – Blekko’s More Aggressive Approach
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  • http://www.sitetruth.com John Nagle, Silicon Valley, CA

    The trouble with using “social” inputs to search is that they are so easy to spam. The Google Places debacle of last year made that clear. In October 2010, Google merged the data from their map search engine into web search results, and gave it prominent placement. The web search engine is driven by links, but the map search engine is driven by addresses on web sites and reviews on sites including Yelp and CitySearch. Those are very, very easy to spam, and within two months Google Places was owned by spammers.

    By December 2010, Google web search results had been so contaminated by spam that he mainstream press was loudly critical. Google had to reduce the prominence of Places results in web search, stop counting reviews as a signal, and take other anti-spam measures. The whole process was a public humiliation for Google.

    Blekko’s “slashtags” only work only because Blekko isn’t big enough to be worth spamming. Blekko claims that they keep tight control over who’s allowed to enter slashtags. That limits Blekko’s scaling. At one time, you had to be invited to get a Gmail account, and had to be at a major university to get a Facebook account. AS both were scaled up, they lost their exclusivity and became spammable.

    Reviews and ratings are valuable signals only when they’re from real customers. eBay and Amazon reviews are useful because those companies know who actually bought the product. This makes it difficult to spam reviews. Google might do something similar through Google Checkout. But uncontrolled reviews from free accounts are worthless.

  • http://simplynaturalcures.com Big John Sm

    I think Blekko is not user friendly, and people will resist using it.
    Their efforts to avoid spam cause the searchable data base to be limited.

    IMHO.

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