Search Engine Review:

Matt Wells's Gigablast search engine came to the attention of webmasters in March 2002, when various webmasters noticed Dwells's anonymous webspider and tracked it back to Gigablast's pre-Beta site. Although it openly apes Google in form and function, Gigablast has garnered a lot of fans among search engine optimizers because it has free submission and weak optimization controls. One SEO firm has even listed Gigablast as one of the top ten search engines online, while already includes Gigablast in their free submission service.

(In a previous life, the domain was devoted to Flash animation and games. Many links still refer to it as such.)

The Users' Side

Well, I'll say one thing about Gigablast: It's never the same thing twice. The database gets turned over (or dumped) constantly, meaning results change from day to day. Gigablast's database seems to fluctuate between 1 and 20 million documents, making it smaller than... everybody else's.

Gigablast is still trying to get a handle on listing-spam, as well. Public statements by its owner suggest the primary spam filter is manual filtering, which probably can't keep up with a large database.

The absolute only reason I can find for using Gigablast is its caching feature: If Google and The Wayback Machine haven't cached what you're looking for, try Gigablast. Otherwise, skip it.

The Webmasters' Side

Why do search engine optimizers love Gigablast so much, while hating the search engine it imitates (Google)? Because search engine optimizers are like abusive boyfriends: They only love the ones they think they can control.

That's about all you need to know: Gigablast's results appear to be controlled mostly by keyword density: If your magic word appears enough, you shoot to the top of the listings. Yeah, I'm really impressed by that.

Submitting sites to Gigablast is free, and sites are usually spidered within a few hours of submission. (Of course, they'll probably need to be reindexed in a week or so, when Gigablast dumps its index again). Gigablast's robot doesn't identify itself, and already has a reputation for ignoring robot exclusion protocols.

Gigablast ignores meta descriptions, using the same "snippet" style of listing description that search engine optimizers hate Google for. But they forgive Gigablast for it, since Gigablast is easy to spam.

Hey, instant spidering, keyword-stuffable, and doesn't use meta tags. They've reinvented AltaVista 1994 and dressed it up as Google!


You may have noticed that I'm having trouble taking Gigablast seriously. That might be unfair: Gigablast is a sincere attempt at creating a search engine (unlike Aesop, which I still maintain is a scam). My distaste for Gigablast has as much to do with the false love its getting from search engine optimizers, as it does with Gigablast's general unimpressiveness.

Search engine optimizers don't love search engines that produce good search results. They love engines that they can beat. When SEO experts say they think Gigablast can take on "the Google monopoly" (Yes, they really say things like that), it's more about their resentment of Google than any aesthetic appreciation of Gigablast. If Gigablast wasn't so easy to submit to, and so easy to dominate, they wouldn't care.

Simply put, Gigablast is not the Fourth Coming of World's Best Search Engine. It's one guy with a Linux cluster in New Mexico imitating Google. This isn't 1996 anymore, and guys running websites out of their garages don't get venture capital unless they're doing something more innovative than imitating the industry leader. Barring a miracle (or an insane billionaire), Gigablast isn't going to advance past being somebody's hobby.