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Google, the world’s largest web search provider, has launched a tool to search postings on weblogs, the journal-style websites that number in the millions.

Blog Search is Google’s first significant move in the blog arena since buying Pyra, the publisher of leading blog hosting company Blogger.com, in early 2003.

Many observers expected Google to launch a blog-only web search at the time of the Pyra purchase, and in the interim several other sites run by much smaller companies, particularly Technorati.com, Feedster.com, and icerocket.com, have launched popular blog search tools.

Recent estimates of the number of blogs range from 14m to more than 50m, with a new blog created every second. They range from amateur diary-style efforts to insider commentaries, opinion forums and commercially-operated websites - a small but burgeoning segment of the fast-growing online advertising market.

The Google service also allows users to subscribe to a “feed” of blog items that relate to any topic.

The reaction from the “blogosphere” itself was mixed, but many welcomed Google’s new tool as providing more competition in the blog search arena.

The Blogherald said Google’s Blog Search tool was faster than some of its main competitors, but lacked the depth of some of them, pointing out it only indexed about 8m blogs.

Dave Winer, one of the first bloggers, criticised the Google tool for only indexing items with headlines, but praised it for acknowledging its use of his weblogs.com web indexer as a source of blog items.

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