Sphere, a new blog search engine has launched a couple days ago, along with $3.75 million in capital and has been quite the buzz the last few days. I have seen both good and bad commentary about Sphere so far and I too have mixed feelings about it so far. I’ve actually been beta testing Sphere for the last few months and immediately fell in love with it then, although felt it lacked some key features that Technorati has with statistics and related media. By time of the official launch of Sphere, I was happy to see that Sphere has definitely upped the functionality now including a great custom date range tool, related media searching, and a neat Featured Blog’s area for search results. TechCrunch has provided a detailed overview of features and feel that he’s covered the details for the most part. Because of this, I’m going to give a brief overview of its offerings as well as some details about my experience with relevance, speed, profiles, and statistics.

Sphere aims for being the most relevent and timely blog search and I definitely agree that it is relevent, however not so timely when compared to Technorati or Google Blog Search, in my opinion. TechCrunch’s announcement states that Sphere uses an advanced algorithm for relevance which is based on three key factors. These factors being links in/out of blog, metadata (like post frequency), and analysis of the posts for the search term. I tested searching a few terms with Sphere, then Technorati, and lastly Google Blog Search and Sphere always seemed to return more relevant results compared to the others. However, as I stated before, time-wise it seems to fall behind. Sphere also states that it uses advanced spam blocking techniques, although I have read multiple reports about spam abuse already with some keyword rich terms. It has only been a few days since the release though and I expected that it wouldn’t completely knock out spam because spam is a massive growing problem on the web that the big guys (Google, Yahoo, etc.) can’t even get right yet.

I like speed when it comes to blog searching and when a new service is released, I want to see posts relating to it as soon as possible. For this, I often use Google Blog Search, which is my prefered blog search for immediate results. To test, I analyzed results for Itzle, a service I have reviewed a few hours ago. Before posting, I checked the results for Google Blog Search, Technorati, and Sphere. Google returned two results, Technorati returned one, and Sphere returned zero. I then published my post. I found that Google displayed my post in around 20 minutes of posting and Technorati within the hour, along with the another blog’s post that I originally saw in Google’s results before posting. Sphere however seemed to take a little more then an hour and a half, which really isn’t all that bad, especially for just launching (really, I’m impressed that is already that quick)! But for now, I’m still going to stick with Google when it comes to getting results as soon as possible.

Sphere also features a neat related media search. When entering a search term, Sphere will return photo results from Webshots, news from various news sources, books from Amazon, and even podcasts results, which appears to be powered by Yahoo Web Services. This is a great extra and it’s fun to view the results every once in a while for specific topics. Is it useful? Personally, I feel that it’s a nice addition however I’d rather use services meant for searching for specific media. I don’t often search for media, but when I do, I need specific and accurate results that would be better found at engines meant for media.

Profile’s and Statistics

(Click image for larger version of screenshot)

One feature that I love about Technorati is how anyone can signup, claim a blog, and start retrieving basic statistics and ranking for their blog. Sphere doesn’t have this, although it does provide some nice statistics that Technorati does not provide. The above screenshot includes to parts. On the top left is a profile box that you can open when clicking “Profile” on the side of a search result of a blog and the rest of the screenshot includes the blogs main profile page which can be accessed by opening a profile box next to a result and selecting the blog name next to “See more on.” These areas provide statistics on average posts per week, words per post, and average links per post. You can also view recent inbound and outbound links as well as recent posts that you have made on your blog. These are some helpful statistics, and it shows that I’ve been slacking with posts per week which is accurate (apologies!) and further makes me yell at myself to improve on this, haha. The stats are fairly basic, but I like them and hopefully we’ll see more statistics in the future (rank.. maybe?).

Just a quick note: If you are trying to figure out how to find who is linking back to your blog, include “Sphereit:” and then your blog address when making a search. This is the same technique used for the Sphere Bookmarklet allowing you to find related results for any site you are viewing.

After seeing the statistics that Sphere provides for blogs, I began thinking about the custom date selection when making searches. I figured that the custom date selection displays bar graphs for each day in the span of 4 months with the height of each bar based on the amount of results for that day, so why not use this to get some frequency statistics for my own blog? I first attempted using the “sphereit:www.solutionwatch.com” method, but it appears as if Sphere has removed the custom date search for this kind of searching. I then tried using “site:www.solutionwatch.com” which returns results for all posts from my blog. Bingo. This search allowed me to select the custom date range option resulting in a nice bar graph of my posting activity! I can see how many posts I’ve made in the last month, 2 months, and 4 months, and see what days I’ve posted the most. I can also see when my posting frequency lowers and when it raises. Fairly interesting to see and I figured I’d share this little tidbit with you.

Overall, I am impressed with what Sphere has to offer already. It is very relevant, fairly quick when gathering results, and provides some detailed statistics about individual blogs. It has a beautiful user interface and is as simple as it gets to make a search. I’m excited to see what Sphere has in store for the future.

View Sphere Blog Search.

One Comment on “Sphere Blog Search”

  1. Sphere « sshell’s says:

    [...] Sphere Blog Search Sphere, a new blog search engine has launched a couple days ago, along with $3.75 million in capital and has been quite the buzz the last few days. I have seen both good and bad comment [...]