You visit a lot of sites. There are certain core sites you probably visit again and again–Google, Facebook, Gmail, Wikipedia, Amazon, Google Maps, Flickr, and so on. Within those sites, you routinely conduct searches. If you want to look up an article on “Barack Obama” on Wikipedia, you first navigate to the Wikipedia homepage, then enter “Barack Obama,” and read the resulting page. If you want to search your inbox for mentions of “Barack Obama,” you first navigate over to your Gmail and repeat the process with the search bar in there.
But a smart new startup makes it possible to search within sites without first visiting those homepages. Slashtag.it, a German venture, lets you search within all (or most) of the sites you’d ever want, all from the same webpage or search bar–saving you precious time on every search.
So say you want to search a certain address in Google Maps. From slashtag.it, you’d simply type the address and then “/m” (or “/maps” or “/gmaps”; there’s a list here). For Google, it’s “/g”; Twitter, “/t”; and so on–many are easily guessed, and you’d presumably get used to them fast if you made slashtag.it your search engine of choice. You can set slashtag.it up so that it’s the default search tool in your browser, and you can also make it so that if you just enter a search term sans slashtag, it will run a default search (on Google, for instance).
Slashtag.it also can search your own personal social web–Gmail, Facebook, and the like are all within its purview, if you’re OK with that. If you’re logged into your Dropbox account, it can search that, too, making it something like a Mac Spotlight tool for your files in the cloud.
The term “slashtag” was popularized by the SEO spam-fighting search engine Blekko, but for slashtag.it, the meaning of the term is different. Rather than being a search engine of its own, slashtag.it defers to the content of site and engines we already trust–it just makes them universally and quickly accessible from one search bar. “The main difference between us and Blekko,” says slashtag.it’s FAQ, “is that they try to include
the slashtags into a proprietary search algorithm. Slashtag.it has no
own algorithm, but forwards you to the sites, which can give you the
best answer for your search.
We consider our approach more open and we also believe that
the results you get from Slashtag.it are better quality.” Slashtag.it is available worldwide, the site’s creators add, while Blekko is U.S.-only for now.
Blekko does have some major similarities, and goes a step further, in some ways, than slashtag.it, letting you create categories of sites in which you’re interested. Both sites are worth experimenting with–and as slashtag.it points out, there’s a slashtag on its own site for Blekko.
Many have tried to get into the “meta-search engine” game before–Leapfish is another, for instance–but slashtag.it’s main saving grace may be its lack of ambition. Rather than invent a new algorithm or try to cull content from multiple engines or sources into one search results page, slashtag.it assumes that you’re comfortable with the search features of a certain set of trusted sites, and simply offers you a shortcut to bypass those site’s landing pages and shave a few seconds off of every search.