A tweet from @philbradley alerted me to an article on Searchengineland.com which announced Blekko’s Traffic Is Up Almost 400 Percent; Here Are The CEO’s Five Reasons Why. Phil was enthusiastic in his tweet: #Blekko traffic goes through the roof – for good reason. Try it out! 

The reason for the Searchengineland.com’s headline seems self-evidence from an image showing the growth in traffic for Blekko.com since January which, to provide a comparison, is contrasted with traffic for the duckduckgo.com search engine. As described in the article:

According to comScore’s numbers, Blekko is now getting about triple the traffic of fellow underdog search engine DuckDuckGo

Blekko’s CEO seems to have provided a significant contribution to the article, and is quoted as including the following reasons for Blekko’s popularity:

  1. Improved index quality.
  2. Dissatisfaction with Google.

Are we seeing an example of weak signals of a significant change in the search engine marketplace? And if this is the case, should institutions be making plans for changes in working practices?

Using Alexa to compare the daily traffic for Blekko, Duckduckgo and Google we see a different picture: or perhaps it is difficult to see the story, because the traffic for Blekko and Duckduckgo fails to move above the x-axis, with a percentage traffic close to zero. It order to see a comparison of the traffic rank, there is a need to display this information on a logarithmic scale, as shown below.

Although there is a need to monitor indications of new developments, there is also a need to avoid over-hyping something new. I think there was a similar over-reaction when Yahoo sold the Delicious.com social bookmarking service, with some of the teething problems encountered in the migration of the service to new ownership leading to people migrating, perhaps prematurely, to new services. Perhaps a more appropriate headline for the Searchengineland.com article (which appears to have been based on a press release) would be “One Little Used Search Engine Used More Than A Rival“.

However one interesting aspect of the story was the suggestion of user dissatisfaction with Google. Yesterday the BBC featured an article which described how Google tackles temporary Gmail access failure which began “Google says it is looking into why thousands of users have been unable to access their Gmail accounts“. The thousands of Gmail users were apparently less than 2% of Gmail’s user base. But closer to home, yesterday Tony Hirst tweeted about how his OUseful.info blog had seemingly disappeared from Google, and he was no longer receiving the large amount of traffic which Google sends to him blog. As a prolific blogger (who has an entry in Wikipedia) Tony described his experiences in a post entitled So Google is No Longer OUseful.info’s Friend…? Use Bing.com instead… But today a Google search for “Tony Hirst blog” now seems to be working. Another minor glitch, it seems, which is quickly fixed.

I can’t help but feel that the more significant issues surrounding Google aren’t to do with performance and reliability issues: after all we have no evidence that Bing, Blekko or Duckduckgo will provide a reliable service if they had the volume of traffic which Google has and, as described last year in a post which asked Time to Move to GMail? local email service can also be unreliable. For me the more significant stories which we have seen in the past few days which may have an impact on Google’ longer-term relevance are to do with legal disputes with the BBC News describing:

and Google’s battles with Facebook and Apple being highlighted in the Guardian: