Did you think the search engine wars were over, and Google won? New kid on the block Blekko, currently in closed private beta, urges you to reconsider. Once out, it's bound to become the favorite of search refiners, with the results likely made available as an API.
As explained in its promotional video, titled "how to slash the web" (embedded below) and narrated by CEO Rich Skrenta, Blekko offers its users a way to filter and refine their search results using "slashtags." The basic concept is simple: enter a search term, then append a modifier to limit (or, to use Blekko's jargon, "slash") the results. The examples given in the video include "global warming /date," which orders results in reverse chronological order, and "global warming /conservative," which only shows web sites with a certain political bias.
Of course, the usefulness of slashtags depends on the humans who created them. Any Blekko user can create a new slashtag and populate the category with specific URLs. The example shown in the video is "rcgliders," for radio-controlled airplanes, but what happens when different users choose different terminology for their slashtags? Blekko co-founder Mike Markson agrees that group editing will be an important feature, but the service doesn't support that yet.
Blekko's target audience is power users, and they'll definitely be interested in seeing the detailed ranking data which is available for any indexed site. Every Blekko search result has an "seo" link which takes you to information about how that particular page was assigned its ranking. Search Engine Land recently took Blekko for a test drive, and documented several screenshots from the SEO drill-down pages.
Screenshot from TechCrunch
Given that Blekko makes their ranking information publicly available to all its users, it's not difficult to imagine that they will also offer an API to give SEO and SEM professionals an even more powerful way to use this data. As John Battelle said: "blekko has opened up the kimono of search data, and I expect the service, once it leaves private beta, will become a favorite of power searchers (and developers) everywhere."
Users who would like access to Blekko's private beta can follow @blekko on Twitter, or tweet them a request with the #blekko hashtag.