Blog search is an industry in a state of transition at the moment. A few years back, it appeared as though Technorati had successfully positioned itself as the dominant blog search engine among the Internet-savvy crowd.Then a growing number of smaller, sometimes more innovative options began to appear and nip at the heals of Technorati. But now those smaller blog search tools, as well as Technorati, are starting to give way before the simplicity and ubiquitousness of the master of information brokerage – Google.
The latest victim is Feedster, which has had a “We’re Changing” notice up on their frontpage for a number of weeks now with no visible signs of life. Further feeding the rumors that Feedster is a goner is the fact that its accompanying company blog has been removed.For its part, Technorati is still very much alive, but some worry that it is trying to move too far outside its original purpose.
Efforts to become more than just the best blog search and filtering service resulted in Technorati burning through its investment money with little to show for it, losing a CEO and being forced to downsize. Today Technorati still offers a decent search option, but gone are many of the result filters and other features that made it the go-to search service during the early days of blogging. I personally turn to Google (both Google BlogSearch and the main Google index) for blog search for the simple fact that it’s right there; no, check that, it’s everywhere.
Competitors cannot merely be comparable faucets of information. They have to improve on that information stream that Google increasingly controls and delivers with unmatchable speed and convenience. Sometimes I open up a browser tab for Ask.com and their blog search because the results are often less cluttered with irrelevance and spam than are Google’s, though the slight improvement in result quality is not enough to cause me to switch to Ask as my primary blog search engine.
Bloglines, which is owned by Ask, may currently offer the best alternative. Bloglines is first and foremost a personalized online RSS feed reader. Searching for blog results from among the feeds you have personally subscribed to is the best way to eliminate search result spam, and both Bloglines and Google Reader allow you to do this. However, this option precludes discovering new sources of answers to your questions. Understanding this limitation, Bloglines also allows you to search through all of the feeds subscribed to by all of its users.
The results may come from feeds you did not choose, but you know that someone did subscribe to them (you can even see how many people subscribed to each individual feed via the “preview feed” link), so the likelihood of a spam blog being indexed and showing up in the results is extremely minimal. The other benefit of Bloglines is the ability to read your feeds and conduct searches outside your own subscriptions from within the same service.
The downside of using Bloglines for blog search is that its users have indexed a far smaller percentage of the blogosphere than Google.There are several good options out there for blog search, as well as a lot of room for growth and innovative development. As on most fronts, Google appears to be leading the way at present, but future surprises can probably be expected from both Technorati and Ask/Bloglines.