No Joke? Blekko is 63rd Largest Pure Search Entity in the World

Previously in beta, Blekko opened it's doors to the rabble of the web last week. Now Blekko have said that they are handling 1 million searches per day. The site has also seen a 10x growth in use of it's most distinctive function - slashtags.

Subsequently many have asked if it can be a "Google-killer", which is arguably the wrong question - and to be fair, Blekko's founder, Richard Skrenta is not interested in killing off Google. In fact, Blekko have a very modest goal - to be the 'third voice' in the search market.

State of the Search Market
In light of Yahoo and Ask.com's recent departure from web search, Blekko's entry might seem extremely timely. So, to bring some color to their announcement, I spoke with Search Evangelist at ComScore, Eli Goodman and asked him what 1 million searches per day on Blekko meant to the market.

September's U.S. search market share figures from Comscore put 'explicit core search' at 16 billion. This means that 16 billion searches were made on a web search portal. Of that number, 10.6 billion searches were made on Google and 1.8 billion on Bing. Whilst the technology powering web search is now a two-horse race between Google and Bing, in order for Blekko to establish itself as a destination in the market, it has to compete with those 'powered by' properties swell.

Yahoo, AOL, Ask network and even Facebook still have explicit core searches taking place on their properties and attributed to them. Yahoo, powered by Bing, accounted for 2.7 billion searches. Ask, who have yet to announce their new web search partner, accounted for 593 million searches and AOL, powered by Google, account for 362 million searches. Furthermore, search as an online activity, in contrast to email, instant messaging or watching video) takes place on thousands of sites, not just the most well known search engine portals. For example, users search on Youtube, FlickR, Craigslist and Match.com. This is known as the expanded search market by comScore, and calculated at 26 billion queries which means on portal search only accounts for approximately two-thirds of all search query traffic in the US.

The Calculations
Mike Marson, VP of Marketing for Blekko provided some clarity on the data, saying that the number of searches per day is based on the average daily query volume since opening the site to the public last week.

If we assume that Blekko continues at the same pace, explicit core search will account for 30 million searches a month. For the purposes of comparison, although unlikely, let's also assume that all these searches originate in the US. This would put Blekko's search market query share at:

  • 0.0011% share of U.S. expanded search queries (30,000,000 / 26,000,000,000)
  • 0.0018% share of U.S. explicit core search (on portal) queries (30,000,000 / 17,000,000,000)
  • 0.0002% share of worldwide expanded search queries

Which is equivalent to:

  • 0.003% of Google (30,000,000 / 10,600,000,000)

  • 0.011% of Yahoo (30,000,000 / 2,800,000,000)

  • 0.017% of Bing (30,000,000 / 1,800,000,000)

  • 0.051% of Ask (30,000,000 / 593,000,000)

  • 0.083% of AOL (30,000,000 / 362,000,000)

Where Blekko Needs To Be
In conclusion, more searches are conducted on Match.com than on Blekko. For Blekko to truly stand a chance of breaking through as a power player in search in the U.S. alone, it would need to service over 75m search queries a day. Can Blekko's baked-in social networking features generate between 600 million to 2.3 billion searches and disrupt the market? Currently, one million searches per day ranks Blekko in the mid 20s of all U.S. sites with a search facility and, in Goodman's own words, "the 63rd largest pure search entity on the planet". A dubious honor or a call to action? You decide.