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I had the great fortune to mingle with the who's-who of CTOs and CIOs at the NoSQL Now! conference last month in San Jose. The event, hosted by DataVersity, was the quintessential pulse on everything happening in the world of Big Data, cloud computing, and database systems.

What's all this have to do with Gucci handbags? Well, I ran into blekko CTO Greg Lindahl at dinner one night and he explained it to me:

In the world of search, it's not just about the data, it's how you enable people to access it.

What Is blekko Anyway?

Blekko is a full web search engine, with regular crawls of billions of web pages. Where search leaders Google and Bing compete on indexing reach, speed, and relevancy, blekko is more about customization. Not to imply blekko’s breadth or relevancy isn’t great, they produce stellar results. The key differentiator is how they provide users with the tools to do new types of searches to drill down more precisely to what they want, without all the spam.

What Makes blekko Different aside of the Lowercase "B"? Slashtags

ImageBlekko's defining search refinement feature is its use of Slashtags. Type something like "chocolate cake /recipes" and you're going to get results strictly for recipes for chocolate cake. Not pictures of chocolate cake. Not stories about chocolate cake. This uniquely blekko feature makes it very simple to quickly filter results to what you're looking for.

Getting familiar with these is like getting used to Tweeting with hashtags--once you take to it, you'll find they're quite powerful. You can select from a pre-defined set of slashtags listed in blekko's directory, or create your own. Pair these tags with the fact that blekko uses real, live, native-language speaking search curators to evaluate, prioritize, and value results, and you've got an entirely different kind of seach engine experience.

What Does This Mean for Me and My Handbag Shopping?

Let me show you in action. I use Gucci as an example, merely because it's the one Greg provided. I'm more a simple Fossil guy myself, but the principles that follow work for whatever value you place on leather sachels. Here's an example of blekko's slashtag filter and human curation in action.

Search: "Gucci handbags" (https://blekko.com/ws/+gucci+handbags)

Result:

First, blekko doesn't give you half a page of sponsored links that few select anyway. Next, their results include websites selected by a slashtag editor, with known spam sites removed, and even a relevant a blog entry on the joys of owning a Gucci handbag.

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Both Bing and Google's results, devoid of human influence, suggest shopping on eBay, which isn't a good idea for designer goods. Three of the other retail outlets they suggest are banned on blekko as spam websites (ouch!).

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Search: Do another search and include this clever /monte slashtag and you get even more usable options. (https://blekko.com/ws/+gucci+handbags+/monte)

Result:

ImageSo give blekko a try. Play with the slashtags a bit. Head here for more instruction on how they're used.

And while you're at it, follow  Greg on Twitter (@glindahl). Let's build up his follower count and keep him Tweeting. I think it's a good thing when C-levels are active on social media.

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