Blekko is closing out 2011 with a round of updates that affect the search engine’s front- and back-end — both how it looks and how it works.
The upstart search engine has announced three changes as part of a “major upgrade” to end the year:
1.) “Significant improvements to index quality and relevance”
Blekko has expanded the size of its index, which CEO Rich Skrenta says will help surface relevant results for more long-tail queries than before. “These are searches where there doesn’t tend to be a lot of spam, the needle in a haystack kind of queries,” he told us via email. “We don’t think a search engine can ‘win’ on these queries, but it can definitely ‘lose’ on them. We do substantially better on these queries, with fewer misses than before. The result is a substantial quality boost on blekko for queries in the top 500 spammiest categories, and vastly improved results for the rest of the search tail.”
2. Automatic slash tags for more than 500 additional categories
What makes Blekko different from its bigger competitors is its slashtags — categories where Blekko is using human curation to identify what it thinks are the best results while weeding out spam in the process. Blekko says it’s now automatically applying slashtags to more than 500 new categories, even when the searcher doesn’t actually use a slashtag. Skrenta tells us that’s an increase from the 110 categories where slashtags were used by default earlier in the year.
3.) A new design and user interface
Lastly, Blekko has launched a new design that will probably remind you of Google’s recent design changes, with a black menu bar across the top of the screen.
Blekko is coming off a $30 million investment from Yandex, the leading Russian search engine. And Skrenta confirms that the funding is what’s powering this latest round of updates.
“We have doubled the server count (to 1500 servers), as well as doubling the RAM and SSD on every box. This allows us to have a larger index, crawl faster, as well as giving us more query serving capacity.”