We warmly welcome a new entrant to the field of human-curated search - Blekko. It has gotten a trove of publicity from its formal launch today, with articles on the Websites of WSJ, NYT, Wired.com, The Next Web, the Atlantic, and many others.
You might not expect us to welcome a new "competitor," but that would be narrow-minded. The only "competitor" we worry about is the status quo. The vast majority of search users use Google only, and either don't know or don't care that the search results often do a poor job of providing them with the information they need. So we welcome the attention a new entrant brings to this issue. We also know that the search market is so vast that one more entrant won't be a barrier to our eventual success, in light of the significant inroads we've already made, particularly in education.
Blekko also doesn't worry us because we've compared its results to those of SweetSearch, and, just as we concluded in a head-on comparison to Google and Bing, we found that SweetSearch's results are far superior to those of Blekko for research-oriented queries. This includes not only the types of searches made by students and teachers, but anyone who is trying to get a comprehensive view of an issue.
To be clear about one important point: in Ten Steps to Better Web Research, we urge users to learn "the full toolkit" of search options. We note that not even we use SweetSearch 100% of the time. There are instances in which Google, Bing, and surely Blekko will provide better search results. Think of these tools as complementary, not competitive, to one another, and use more than one on every serious research inquiry. Indeed, SweetSearch offers a "toggle button" to help you easily compare Google's results.
SweetSearch is the product of 100,000+ hours of research that went into creating findingDulcinea's 700+ Web Guides and thousands of articles. This content links to tens of thousands of Web sites that have been evaluated as credible by our research experts and librarian and teacher consultants. For emerging learners, we've recently introduced a beta version of SweetSearch4Me, which is the only search engine that prominently ranks high quality Websites created for elementary school students, and mixes them with accessible primary source sites.
We constantly evaluate our search results and "fine-tune" them, by increasing the ranking of Web sites from organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, PBS and universities. We do more than merely exclude spam sites; we also exclude marginal sites that read well and authoritatively, but lack academic or journalistic rigor, and thus are not cite worthy; many of these show up in Blekko.
For a bevy of reviews of findingDulcinea and SweetSearch, see our media kit; to add SweetSearch to the search options on your Web browsers, click on the "Add On" box on SweetSearch; or get a widget for SweetSearch, to embed it on your Web site.
Enough of the "press release." We'll compare the results for Sweet Search and Blekko for George Washington, Diabetes Complications, and Comet Hartley, the green comet that is currently making a close pass of the earth. I did not use quotation marks, since most search users don't.
For George Washington, Blekko returns 19 results on the first page; the first six include the homepage of George Washington University, the Wikipedia entry, the entry in IMDB about a movie that has no connection to the first U.S. president, a silly YouTube video, and user-generated content from Answers.com. A total of four of the 19 results provide credible information about the first president of the United States. Using a Blekko-suggested slash-tag, such as history, improves the quality and relevance of the results, but turns up very narrow entries about specific aspects of George Washington's life, not the broad overview someone searching his name would expect.
Now let's analyze the SweetSearch results. SweetSearch always displays two sets of search results - first, up to three results from findingDulcinea, and secondly, from the full index of 35,000 sites. This search produces stellar results from findingDulcinea, including a blog entry that discusses why George Washington has two birthdays, and a short profile that links to seven of the most outstanding Web resources about him, including a biography published in 1807, which you won't easily find using any other search engine. The "natural" results add his profile on Whitehouse.gov and C-Span's American Presidents, the documents collections of the Miller Center and the Library of Congress, entries from the LOC student site and other student-friendly sites, and a few recent news stories.
The results from Blekko for diabetes complications are all high-quality. Interviews with its founder indicate that Blekko searches only a universe of 150 Web sites for health queries. Ironically, we find this is too few; the results, while all credible, appear to be largely redundant. We estimate that SweetSearch indexes 1,000 health-focused Websites, and also searches the health content on thousands of mainstream media Websites, which complement the information provided by the health-focused sites. Thus, its natural search results for diabetes complications includes results from medical journals and news publications, as well as the outstanding blog "DLife," which collectively provide a more rounded view than the narrow results on Blekko. The findingDulcinea results all come from our Web Guide to Diabetes, and include four well-curated, synergistic links in the context of a narrated, organized guide that was created by a registered nurse and checked by an editor and quality assurance guru.
Of the first 20 results on Blekko for Comet Hartley, roughly six are well-written "passion sites," created by an individual who is passionate about the subject, but does not disclose any academic or journalistic credentials; these sites are fine if you are knowledgable about the subject, but otherwise you don't know whether you can trust the content. Additionally, seven of the 20 results are identical re-posts of NASA's press release that it is sending a spacecraft to rendezvous with the comet.
On SweetSearch, you find mostly outstanding results from credible resources, such as Sky and Telescope Magazine, EarthSky (created by top scientists), NASA, HubbleSite, Phys.org, and several news publications.
Please let us know what you think of Sweet Search! Write us at sweetsearch@DulcineaMeda.com
Founder and CEO