izik Debuts as #1 Free Reference App on iTunes

“Anyone who uses their iPad to search the Internet for info should try Izik for an alternative to common search apps such as Google.” – Appolicious

We launched izik, our search app for tablets, last Friday and are amazed at the responses we’ve received! Thanks to our users, on day one izik was the #1 free reference app on iTunes and #49 free app overall. Yesterday we were mentioned twice in the New York Times, here and here (also in the B1 story in print). We are delighted that there is such a strong desire to see something fresh and new in search, and that our vision with izik is so well received.

The twitterverse has been especially active in spreading the word about izik. We’ve seen a lot of comments about the beautiful design and interface, the useful categories, and most importantly the high quality results that make izik a truly viable choice for searching on tablets.

In addition to the press listed at the bottom of our last blog post, here are more reviews and honorable mentions that have rolled in:

Search Engine Watch
Cult of Mac
Appolicious
Skrenta Blog (from our very own CEO)
Cosmic VC
New York Times
New York Times Bits Blog

But what better way to learn about izik than to try it out on your own Android tablet or iPad? If you like what you see, please encourage your friends to give it a whirl and help us move the search market forward.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates (teaser: we have a mobile phone app in the works).

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izik: Take Search for a Joy Ride on Your Tablet

We are giddy to announce the launch of izik, our new search app built specifically with the iPad and Android tablets in mind. With izik, every search on your tablet is transformed into a beautiful, glossy page that utilizes rich images, categories, and, of course, gesture controls. Check it: so much content, so many ways to explore.

Tablets are increasingly getting integrated into our lives, so we wracked our noggins to figure out how we could use our search technology to optimally serve tablet users. Not surprisingly, our research revealed that tablets take on a very different role in our lives than laptops and desktops. Laptops are for work; tablets are for fun. Laptops are task-oriented (“what’s the capital of Bulgaria?”); tablets are more exploratory (“what’s Jennifer Lopez doing these days?”).

So, our goal with izik was to move the task-oriented search product we all use on our computers (aka 10 blue links) and turn it into a more fun, tablet-appropriate product. That means an image-rich layout with an appearance and experience very different than what we’re used to seeing on a laptop.

izik_home

Type Less, Get More
izik is more than just a pretty face, though it sure is pretty! With izik, your query becomes the starting point to exploring the web. Every query surfaces its own unique set of categories that you can dive into. Type “Kate Middleton” and see results from Gossip, Fashion and more; type “San Francisco” and see results from Sports, News, Travel, Hotels and more.

These categories are what allow you to, as we like to say, type less but get more. Many folks, our team included, find typing on tablets cumbersome. izik is designed to get you the results you’re looking for in as few “keystrokes” as possible. izik uses its categories to provide context to your topic (did you mean buffalo the animal or buffalo the city?) as well as surface fun and interesting topics to assist in your exploration.

One of our favorite times to use izik is when we’re watching TV and want to look up that actor’s bio (we admit it, our tablet is our TV viewing companion). Or when we’re doing some “window shopping” and want to check out sales and reviews. Or sometimes when we just want to flip through some pretty pictures. It really is amazing what you can explore.

izik_serp

Tablet Gestures
Let’s talk about how to use izik for a magical experience. I love a good list, don’t you? Here are the key features you can check out once you’ve entered a topic:

1. Swipe horizontally to view more results within one of the thousands of izik categories
2. Swipe vertically on the page to find more categories related to your topic
3. Expand any result to see more without leaving the page
4. Swipe through expanded results and images
5. Quick answer boxes that help you find what you need right away
6. Pinch to share on Facebook and Twitter

The app is free and ready to download now for iPad and Android. Experience izik for yourself and take Search for a joy ride!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Get more coverage here:

TechCrunch

Search Engine Land

Washington Post

WebProNews

 

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blekko donates search data to Common Crawl

At blekko, we believe the web and search should be open and transparent — it’s number one in the blekko Bill of Rights. To make web data accessible, blekko gives away our search results to innovative applications using our API. Today, we’re happy to announce the ongoing donation of our search engine ranking metadata for 140 million websites and 22 billion webpages to the Common Crawl Foundation.

Common Crawl has built an open crawl of the web that can be accessed and analyzed by everyone. The goal is building a truly open web, with open access to information that enables more innovation in research, business, and education. Common Crawl will use blekko’s metadata to improve its crawl quality, while avoiding webspam, porn, and the influence of excessive SEO (search engine optimization). This will ensure that Common Crawl’s resources and engineering time are spent on webpages that are written by, and are useful to, humans.

We’re putting our full-fledged support behind Common Crawl’s crawl and mission with this donation. We’re not doing this because it makes us feel good (OK, it makes us feel a little good), or because it makes us look good (OK, it makes us look a little good), we’re helping Common Crawl because Common Crawl is taking strides towards our shared vision of an open and transparent Internet.

Just take a look at this excerpt from Common Crawl’s website:

“As the largest and most diverse collection of information in human history, the web grants us tremendous insight if we can only understand it better. For example, web crawl data can be used to spot trends and identify patterns in politics, economics, health, popular culture and many other aspects of life. It provides an immensely rich corpus for scientific research, technological advancement, and innovative new businesses. It is crucial for our information-based society that the web be openly accessible to anyone who desires to utilize it.”

Who could disagree with that?

(Discuss on Hacker News)

MIT Review: A Free Database of the Entire Web May Spawn the Next Google (Hey, isn’t blekko the next Google?!)

Posted in Partnerships, Technology | 4 Comments

99 ROCKZi Boards on the Wall

In one month’s time, what do you get when you launch a new feature and get a nice mention in TechCrunch? In our case we get over 100 websites that have added ROCKZi boards, including NFL team the Houston Texans. Another recent partner is Club Website, a UK football league website service that provides sites for 39,000 teams ranging from youth to semi-pro. Club Website now has ROCKZi boards about UK football on all of their sites. We are obviously excited at this quick and overwhelmingly positive response. We are also thrilled that the value of adding a ROCKZi board to your website is clear – high quality content, pre-wired into social networks, drives traffic.

If you have a website – be it for personal or business use – you can add relevant, compelling content simply by adding a couple of lines of code that we generate for you. Another bonus is that the board activity drives traffic to your site, not ours. You reap the social benefits of every share, up vote, and comment on your embedded board. Try searching under News Boards for your topic of choice, and if it doesn’t yet exist, create one in 20 seconds or less.

 

 

You may have read our blog post about the “Embed” feature, and now you’ve seen some examples. But what’s better than checking out other sites? Trying the feature out for yourself!

We hope you’ll join the 100+ sites that have added ROCKZi boards to their websites.

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Tech Talk About blekko’s Operations Monitoring Infrastructure

On September 28, I gave a talk at the Surge conference in Baltimore, titled “Monitoring and Debugging Big Clusters Running Real-Time NoSQL Apps”. Here’s the abstract:

Running a big NoSQL cluster used for data-mining Map/Reduce jobs in production is challenging, but fairly common these days. Keeping up a hundred+ node NoSQL-based cluster serving sub-second responses to fickle web-users can be terrifying, for both operations and engineering staff. We’ve been operating such a system at blekko for two years now, and we’ve learned the hard way about the kinds of monitoring, debugging and debugability features needed to survive without pulling out too much of our hair. Come and learn from our mistakes!

If this sort of thing interests you, please take a look at the video and slides!

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Update: SEO Tools 30-day Free Trial

We have had a great response to the new release of our SEO tools!

We are pleased to offer a 30-day Free Trial of the blekko SEO tools. Just sign up, and you will not be charged if you cancel within the first 30 days. Please try it out — we’d love to get your feedback!

https://seo.blekko.com/land

 

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A new blekko search tutorial

[blekko /blogs]
There is a new blekko search tutorial over on the blekko help website. It starts with the basics and then describes blekko’s advanced features, most of which do things which you just can’t do on any other search engine!

It will teach you about:

  • search basics
  • using slashtags to improve your results
  • creating your own custom, curated slashtags
  • using exclusive, boosted, and auto-boosted slashtags
  • using date-sort and date-range slashtags
  • using blekko to create alerts and rss feeds
  • embedding blekko search boxes (even with custom slashtags!) on your website

Please give it a look, and let us know if you found it helpful! You can contact us on twitter (@blekko), email (support@blekko.com), or by leaving a comment here.

Posted in Features | 2 Comments

Blekko SEO Tools: Get Unparalleled Data to Help Drive Traffic

We are pleased to announce our new and improved SEO tools! We have the great features you’re used to from blekko — duplicate content, inbound links and outbound links — and now we provide even more SEO data. Blekko performs 120 million searches per month through the 20 billion pages it has indexed, over 100 million of which are updated daily. This data allows blekko to provide up-to-the-minute SEO data from the unique perspective of a search engine.

Our subscription-based service has a sophisticated interface and comprehensive data that provides developers with important ranking metrics to help optimize and drive traffic to their websites. The new features include page analysis and SEO report cards, inbound links based on category, full link reports, and instant SEO access from blekko’s search engine. As a subscriber, you can look up as many urls as you want, including SEO data for competitors.

We’d like to highlight a few of the new features we mentioned. The Inbound Links report has gotten a major upgrade in the form of realtime updates! We show you the newest inbound links and provide links to the exact articles or pages where your site is being mentioned. Underneath the realtime feed, you can access a list of domains, their host rank, and number of links that point back to your site. Given blekko’s commitment to spam-free search and editorial prowess in curating slashtags, you can bet we are returning high quality sites.

Another cool way we present this data is organizing inbound links by category. This is especially unique to blekko thanks to our slashtag technology, which organizes high quality websites by topic. Now for SEO purposes, you can see which topics drive the most traffic to your site. For the New York Times, in the image below, some of the main categories of traffic sources are politics, sports, and science. When mousing over the circles, you will see the top sites that are linking back to your website.

Now for the SEO Report Card. The idea of report cards may conjure up flashbacks, but this is the kind you want to pore over. When it comes to the mysteries of site performance, this is where we break it down. We evaluate 45 factors, organized under larger areas of Anchors, Url, Content, Performance, and Links. Not only do we give letter grades but we provide detail and context so you understand what’s working and what’s not! With this information, you can effectively tailor your site for optimization.

You may have wondered what exactly a crawler indexes on your web page. We provide exactly that kind of insight in the Sections report. We tell you how many page sections were looked at, how many were included, and how many were excluded. This is honey to obsessive data geeks. And we mean that in a good way!

In addition to knowing who is linking to you, wouldn’t it be grand to know where you’re being mentioned? The Domain Roundup wonderfully tells you all about your web presence. Here you will find links, summaries, and timestamps of recent pages that mention your domain. You will also get a list of similar sites (great for benchmarking) and listings where your domain is mentioned.

That’s just a glimpse of the new blekko SEO tools, folks. As CEO Rich Skrenta eloquently put it, “Blekko’s premium SEO tools give developers unique and often privately kept data about web domains content. Unlike other search engine analytic tools which only show general data on inbound links, our premium SEO tools provide full data reports that can be used to compare SEO stats between sites and direct SEO access from blekko search result pages.”

We hope you are as excited about the blekko SEO tools as we are, and will check them out!

**Edit: Find out about the free trial here.

Posted in Features, SEO | Tagged | 7 Comments

Technology at blekko

Whenever I speak at conferences, someone always asks about the technology that drives blekko. Here’s a peek into the scale and the technology behind our search engine.

A whole-web search engine needs to crawl and index billions of webpages. It’s hard to say how many webpages there are, because most webpages are generated by web spammers. Our current cluster of 1,500 computers can crawl and index 4 billion webpages. We use over 10,000 hard disk drives, similar to the biggest one you might buy for a desktop computer. We have 3,000 flash, or solid state disk drives, similar to the drives you might have in a new laptop. The total amount of text in these 4 billion webpages is one petabyte, which is about 500 billion times the size of this blog posting.

blekko combinators exampleWe store all of the data in a special database system, of a type known as NoSQL. It has some pretty unique features that make developing a search engine easier than usual. If you’d like to learn a bit more about our database and how it aids writing a search engine, there are two blog postings over at highscalability.com which describe it in detail:

One unusual aspect of our system is that we don’t use the technology called RAID to make our disks more reliable. You can read about how we get reliability with more consistent performance and faster rebuilds in this blog posting:

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this peek into the technologies that underlie a modern search engine!

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Powering web apps with the blekko API

You’re familiar with the blekko.com website, but you might not know that blekko also has an API, which enables programmers to write programs that run searches at blekko, and do interesting things with the results. One well known example is Flipboard, which uses blekko to find feeds of stories about any topic.

We ran across a nice new example over the weekend, thanks to a web app developed at the Rails Rumble 2012 hackathon. The Rails Rumble took place over a 48 hour period last weekend, and one of the teams produced a web application named Earmarkd. Earmarkd built their own custom-curated slashtags to return political results for the left, right, and center (aisle) viewpoints for any topic, from abortion to zygotes.

earmarkd header

Check it out! And if you’re interested in the details of our API, drop us an email to apiauth@blekko.com.

Posted in Features, Partnerships, Technology | 2 Comments