Blekko Adds Facebook Comments To Search Results (But Why?)

Blekko LogoIf you’ve been hoping that someone’s search engine would turn into a social network, today is your lucky day.

Sure, Google and Bing have been making search results more social, and Bing shows Facebook “likes” in its search results, and Google has its +1 button experiment … but that’s nothing compared to what Blekko is doing.

Blekko is turning its search results page into something akin to Facebook Lite.

If you login to Blekko via your Facebook account, the search results page will now include Facebook status updates from your friends that are (hopefully, but not always) related to your search term. Here’s an example search for “google +1,” with Facebook features galore in the right column.

blekko-facebook-1

In this case, the Facebook comments are somewhat related and perhaps add a little to the search results: Greg Jarboe’s message is at least about Google, but it’s about Google Video, not +1. David Harry’s messages are both related to +1, but they’re essentially duplicate updates. (Still, those two are way more relevant than Blekko’s organic results; there’s not a single result about Google +1 showing on page one.)

In other cases, the Facebook comments add nothing whatsoever to the search. No disrespect to my friend Misty, but this conversation between her and her husband is just irrelevant noise on a search for “U2 tickets.”

blekko-facebook-2

In today’s announcement, Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta says that “what your friend says about information is as important as any expert’s advice could ever be,” but these examples cast a lot of doubt on that claim. And I suspect a great many other queries would do the same.

The Problem: Search Is Not Social

It makes sense to use social signals to influence search results; they can be good indicators of relevance, trust and authority. But it should probably stop there. Social networking is full of noise, and we expect search engines to eliminate noise, not collect it. (Heck, Blekko is the search engine that unilaterally banned the “noise” of content farms a few months ago.)

Search engines are tools. Search is transactional. It’s driven by specific needs and tasks. Social networking, for the general population, is the opposite. It’s where you go to hang out with friends, to chat and share pictures.

Much like Google +1, this new Blekko feature presumes that searchers want their search results to be more social.

I disagree.

What about you? Do you like the idea of seeing Facebook comments and updates alongside your search results? Comments are open.

Related Topics: Blekko | Channel: Consumer | Features: Analysis

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.spiderwritingseo.co.uk/ billmarshall

    Entirely agree Matt, this rush to embrace social by all the search engines just doesn’t make sense to me. When I search I’m usually looking for facts, information and at least some degree of objectivity, social just gets in the way of that. I really wonder if search bosses are so close to the mechanics of their task and the problems of market share that they’ve forgotten what search is actually used for.

    I had high hopes of Blekko but this development doesn’t work for me at all.

  • http://www.andil.co.uk Andy Mollison

    From the actual search results shown in the “Google +1″ search, it looks like showing social results is the last thing they need to be worrying about. Not one of those top search results are relevant.

  • http://macgizmoguy.com MGM

    Last time I visited Blekko it seemed their priority was showing me FORUM posts from years ago (a nasty habit of Google’s as well.) Bad enuff to be given Ancient History, and now the trend towards ‘Fresh’ FaceBook blither-blather? Ugh.

    Blekko seems to have such an AGENDA – Like some nasty Puritanical Crusader rat-finking AdSense correlations, up-fronting SEO tidbits like 99% of the world even CARES… Bottom line, Search for Geeks by trendoid Geeks… What’s next little Angel and Devil icons?

  • http://www.BuildDirect.com Syed Khaled Hussaini

    Blekko’s timing in taking on Content Farms was perfect. What they did was extreme – removing content farms completely – but it worked in their favor in terms of all the publicity they got, however, this time around such extreme change almost seems stupid, like a kid screaming for attention.

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