In a world where the term “google” is verb synonymous with performing a web search, it is hard for the average person to think beyond the search giant. But, if you can interrupt that knee-jerk response to head to Google.com when you need to know something, you might find that you can get better information faster using a more specialized search tool. Here are some great options to expand you mind and your search capabilities.
Did you know that your favorite government web site is also a search engine? Well, in truth its a giant database, but coupled with a search front-end it is much like tapping into a government-specific search tool. On the site, the searcher has direct access to searchable information from the United States government, state governments, and local governments. When you need something government-related, then check out USA.gov.
If medical information is more your target, check out Healthline. This resource is a search tool for medical information. It offers medically filtered results developed by trained medical personnel, so there is definitely a curated feel to the content.
This resource is a very large collection of NatGeo maps in a searchable online database. Browse the categories and you can get a sense of what you can tap, including world maps, satellite maps of Mars, Globe Explorer aerial imagery, and other information.
Technorati is a venerable blog search engine that offers real time results from over 22 million sites and a billion links. If you think your answer is out there in the blogosphere, check out Technorati’s tool.
For the deep web (remember that favorite Studio topic?) CompletePlanet offers a capable search tool. The deep web is essentially aspects of the vast universe of the internet that Google hasn’t yet or can’t tap. CompletePlanet offers specific, topical databases of information and the information can only be retrieved by a direct query, rather than from Google’s indirect route. According to the site, approximately 70,000+ of the estimated total 200,000 Deep Web sites and about 11,000 of the estimated total 45,000 “surface” Web search sites are listed on CompletePlanet.
How about a search engine for apps? I know you need one. Quixey offers just that – find apps based on what you want to do. It is a semantic search engine with backing from Eric Schmidt of Google fame – they know a little bit about search. It mines reviews, blogs, social media and other sources to retrieve hits.
Are you looking for the very top option among options? I know I have started many a query in Google with “the best …” FindTheBest targets its search efforts at just that type of query. FindTheBest has collected retail data on a variety of products and organized them under nine broad categories. Results are visual and you can filter them. Great way to hone right in on the best choice.
Want to collect and curate your own content? Attrakt will allow you to browse the web and collect links that you can then later search. It’s like Google’s custom search tool, but a bit easier to work with. At its core, its a bookmarking tool with a far better search and organization interface. Great for topical research – save your projects in an Attrakt Box.
There are search engines that search the search engines and these are called metasearch engines. Maybe you don’t want to search Google, then search Yahoo, then search Bing, or whathaveyou, and risk repetitive stress injury. Maybe you want to search all of them at once. If you do, then check out the likes of Zuula, Ixquick and Dogpile Web Search, as well as my personal favorite and previous Studio-star DuckDuckGo.
That’s Just Not Enough Search Engines
If that’s the case, then check out the following list of alternatives I pulled off of DMOZ. I didn’t check all the links so I can’t guarantee that they all work, but this should still offer up some fun browsing opportunities. If you have some favorite alternatives, please feel free to drop them in the comments so others can enjoy the benefits.
- Alternative.to – A search engine for alternatives, meaning it can search for existing opposites on any given subject.
- AlternativeTo – Alternatives to software applications are organized into categories and can also be searched according to platforms and tags.
- Best Similar Sites – Finds similar, related, or alternative websites.
- Clusterpat.com – Search engine for US and European patents. Results from several sources are merged in a single list or in clusters. Order by relevance or date.
- ColorOf – A color search engine meant to find items in defined colors.
- Creative Commons Search – Powered by Nutch, it searches for content which can be re-used (for some uses) without having to pay or ask permission.
- Crwlr.net – Finds active web servers and receives whatever information those servers disclose. Some of the features require free registration.
- Dooblet – Find the alternatives to a broad range of subjects.
- Dukten – A product information database searchable by the UPC or EAN that appears in the barcode of a product. Pictures, details, specifications.
- Ecofreek – Searches the web for free and ‘for swap/trade’ items people no longer need.
- Eyje – The latest comments on any topic such as people, events, ideas, categorized by various criteria. Registered users can add topics and comments.
- FindHow – A “how-to” search engine for finding answers to common questions.
- GetMeSubs – Search for subtitles based on the file name or the release name.
- Globalogiq HTML Code Search Engine – Searches within HTML source code and http headers. Free demo requires registration.
- Google minus Google – Search with Google without getting results from Google sites such as Knol, Blogger and YouTube.
- GrantVine – Searchable grants database and assistance programs for individuals.
- Green Maven – Green Search Engine which provides environmentally aware results, includes news and products.
- Harpish – Designed to find files of a wide range of formats.
- IFAC net – Global accountancy search engine, provides industry articles, guidelines and management tools.
- Jamespot – RSS feeds search engine indexing blogs posts, news sites stories, audio and video podcast in 33 languages.
- Jumobi – Searches for mobile-friendly websites by keyword or category.
- Kurrently – A real-time search engine for Facebook and Twitter.
- Lionseek – A search engine that scans the ‘for sale’ sections of online forums and organizes the data to make the search experience more efficient.
- Lullar – Searches for profiles on social networking sites by e-mail, first, last name and username.
- NiSearch – Finds documents in .pdf, .doc, .ppt, .xls, .rtf and html format. Requires registration.
- Online Webpage Image Downloader and ImageInfo Grabber – Grabs and lists image content and information from websites with filtering options. It also offers downloading of grabbed images and social network sharing of grabbed images.
- Oolone – Provides images of result sites instead of text snippets.
- OpenBDB – The Open Book Database provides help to find books published since 1966.
- Panjoy – Searches for recipes by ingredients, title, celebrity chefs.
- PeekYou – Searches for names and usernames across a variety of social networking sites and even among Wikipedia editors, registers users of SourceForge, Launchpad and My Opera. Searching can be refined by location and age.
- QueryCAT – Searches the web for FAQs, automatically extracting questions and ranking the answers to facilitate finding the relevant piece of information.
- Quicko – Presents a search results page from which relevant results can easily be selected then browsed sequentially without opening new tabs or windows.
- RSSsearchhub – Search for RSS, Rdf and Atom feeds or search the feeds.
- Roozzy – A search engine to find mobile friendly websites.
- Roysearch – Provides access to the Roysearch Knowledge Base of over 10 million concepts and 25 million semantic relations. Demonstrates how the knowledge base can be used for search refinement.
- SHODAN – Search for computers based on software, geography, operating system, IP address and more. For example, it can find servers running Apache 2.2.3 on Windows 2000 in Switzerland.
- Search IM – Offers search for users of Skype, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk and MSN messenger by their hobbies, work/profession, interests and anything else they include in their ‘about me’ pages.
- SearchIRC – Search Internet Relay Chat rooms and networks.
- Search – A code specific search engine. API documentation, code snippets and open-source repositories are indexed and searchable.
- SeeSources.com – A service to check papers for passages plagiarized from the web.
- Similar Pages – A search engine for finding similar and alternatives websites. Works on a dataset of about 200 million sites.
- Similar Site Search – Helps to find similar, related, or alternative websites. Based on user generated tags.
- Similar Site Search – Helps to find similar, related, or alternative websites. Based on user generated tags.
- SimilarSites – Finds alternatives to popular websites.
- Similarkind – Helps users find new alternatives or similar content.
- Simply Hired – Provides a sizeable database of jobs, collates material from several businesses.
- Sites Like Search – Helps to find similar or alternative websites.
- SkillPages – SkillPages is creating new opportunities for everyone everywhere.
- SlideFinder – Search engine for finding PowerPoint presentations and slides. The results include previews. The interface is available in several languages.
- Social Search – Search for someone’s status and shares on Facebook, Twitter & Google Buzz.
- Social Searcher – Facebook search without logging in. Finds images, pages, posts by keywords.
- Stinky Teddy – Combines results from several sources to present the latest user-generated content. Its “buzz-o-meter” measures the current level of activity concerning the topic on Twitter.
- Stylig – Collaborative fashion content search engine, indexes selected fashion blogs and online magazines.
- Sysoon – Dead people search engine. Search by name, year or social security number (reverse lookup).
- Taggl – Searches various applications, including del.icio.us, flickr, Scribd, YouTube, for tags.
- The Internet Spec List – Search engine for Request For Comments (RFC). Also organized according to topic.
- TopicDash – Tracks the latest popular content on the web: Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Topsy – Searches content published on Twitter and the web, sorted by relevance or date.
- Twitority – Authority based Twitter search, find Twitter postings by number of followers.
- Vertical Search – Vertical search engine with many categories and a directory of the searched sites.
- VideoStep – Indexes video files that can be embedded and makes them available to publishers and website owners.
- Wolfram|Alpha – Computational knowledge engine that draws on multiple sources to answer user queries directly.
- Yummly – Search for recipes by ingredient, diet, allergy, nutrition, taste, calories, fat, price, cuisine, time, course and source.
- Zanran – A search engine for finding data and statistics. The search results will be graphs, charts and tables.
- ZoomInfo – A business information search engine, providing company search, people search and job search. It constructs profiles on people and companies, drawn from the Web, or created by individuals and companies for themselves.
- sengine.info – Searches sites by domain name, title, keywords and IP address.