For Better Search, Get Creative With Your Search Engines

G.B.Y.Logos.1

 

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.

 

search-engine-market-share

Chart created by Altered Insight Digital Marketing. Data from Comscore Dec 2012 Search Engine rankings.

 

USA.gov

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.

Healthline

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.

National Geographic Map Search Engine

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

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.

CompletePlanet

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.

Quixey

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.

FindTheBest

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.

Attrakt

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.

Metasearch Engines

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 ZuulaIxquick 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.

Happy searching!

  • 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.

Why "Google" It, When You Can "Twitter" It?

Internet search via search engines has been around a long-time. 15 tech years or more, which is like 102 in people years. Apparently, however, search engines are on the wane, as reported by Hitwise (link here). At least in the U.K. For the month of May, anyway. For the first time, it appears that visits to social networks exceeded visits to search engines. Now, it is kind of unfair to consider this an apples to apples comparison, as they both serve different purposes at present and the difference was approximately .5%.  It is fair to say, however,  that improved search capabilities within social networks might tip the scales even further in the direction of the likes of Twitter and Facebook. During the month, Facebook accounted for the most social networking traffic, followed by YouTube and then Twitter. Check out the graphs from Hitwise, reprinted below:

Another point worth noting is that Google UK was still the top site visited overall. Check out the listings in this chart, also from Hitwise:

Regardless of your take on the results, these still represent some interesting numbers.

Breaking Down Google

Google by the image. Pingdom (link here) is a website monitoring company that loves to collect web stats. I reported some of those stats in a post a little while back (link here). Want some goods on Google? Check out this somewhat large infographic showing some Google numbers. And be humbled.

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More on Cobalt (& Lexis' Mystery Project)

Logo of Westlaw.
Image via Wikipedia

The New York Times ran an article (link here) discussing “sweeping” changes to the Big Two, Westlaw and Lexis, in the pipeline. Project Cobalt, (previously discussed here), is slated for February 1. Lexis’ drop date has not yet been disclosed.

The Times article is an interesting read on the history of these giants and their motivations for change. You see, people are sick of paying huge amounts for a mediocre, 1980’s interface and functionality. Go figure.

West reps told the Times that it took 5 years to build the new service. Oh no. Does that mean the service is already 5 years out of date?  The article discusses relevancy by algorithm (second-guessing what the lawyer might actually be looking for) and a Google-like search interface. No mention of retaining Boolean search, though. Not 2010 enough, I suppose.

My jury remains out. It will reconvene on February 1.

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Bringing Web Search To New Depths

I am always looking for interesting ways to access deep web information – documents that are not necessarily html but are still accessible via the Web. Another player in this game is RefSeek, a search engine providing advanced search capability  and an index of over a billion documents including web pages, books, encyclopedias, journals, and newspapers. There is more than simply document search, though: RefSeek now offers definitions, math calculations, and a reference directory. Definitions show above regular search results with relevant links. Math calculations are natural language for math equations and conversion. And perhaps the coolest feature is the reference directory, which offers a curated list of hundreds of references sites, so you have NO EXCUSE to fall back on Wikipedia.

Hat tip to Pandia Search Engine News

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Have You Heard The News? Google Living Stories

Image representing Google Labs as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

Google brings forth yet another interesting way to view and follow news and it is called Google Living Stories. It is a collaboration between Google, The New York Time and The Washington Post. GLS builds on articles found in these papers, providing information related to the stories as it develops on a single web page devoted to the story. If you navigate to the Google Labs GLS page here, you will see links to the included stories. Click on a link and see a very slick page with its own URL that includes an overview of the main article, a time line of developments pertaining to the story, interactive tables showing related information (in the case of health care reform, costs and impact on the deficit), links to related stories and pertinent background information, pictures, video, graphics, opinions, and all sorts of goodies fleshing out the various dimensions of a news article.

Updates are highlighted when you return to the page and older stories are summarized. There is a link for comments, as well as email or RSS subscription to the particular story’s new developments. What a great alternative to other collected resources on newsworthy topics! Do I wish I had a resource like this when I was still a school girl writing current events reports!

Check out the quick vid from Google describing Living Stories:

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To The Google Scholar User: Buyer Beware

Image representing Google Scholar as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

Here is a bit of common sense from real life example: when using Google Scholar for your legal research, use care in making sure that versions of a case match. Legal Writing Prof Blog has a post about an attorney preparing a brief for filing who noted a discrepancy in the footnote numbering between the official Wisconsin Reporter version of a case and the Google Scholar version. The Blog quotes the attorney’s findings as follows:

The source of the discrepancy quickly became apparent.  In the official version of the case (as in all official versions of Wisconsin cases), the filing of a petition for review in the Wisconsin Supreme Court gets noted in the caption with a footnote placed at the end of the name of the party that filed the petition.  The symbol for this footnote is a dagger, not a number.  Google Scholar, however, designates this footnote with a number (in this instance, the dagger became “1”) and renumbers the remaining footnotes accordingly.  Where there’s more than one footnote attached to the caption – e.g., Ellsworth v. Schelbrock, 229 Wis. 2d 542, 600 N.W.2d 247 (Ct. App. 1999) – Google Scholar shifts the footnote numbers even more:  in Ellsworth, the caption has two footnotes, so the numbered footnotes shifted by two as well, making footnote 1 in the official version into footnote 3 in the Google Scholar version.

My thinking on the proper role of Google Scholar is this: the greatest cost in using the paid databases is the time spent poking around looking for the main cases on a point of law. Once you have identified those cases, the costs of pulling them down out of the paid databases is relatively inexpensive. I see Google Scholar as an effective (but not sole) tool for the former task. When writing an appellate brief to any court, I would not feel the slightest bit comfortable relying on Google Scholar’s version. At that point, I would be pulling the actual cases from the paid databases. While these sources are far from infallible, they do have a longer track record with respect to accuracy, as well as complete citations and the ability to Keycite or Shepardize, a must for briefs to be filed in any court.

So there you have it. Use the free resources with your eyes wide open to their possible shortcomings, and you should not go far wrong.

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Google Wave Review – GP Solo Technology eReport

I admit that I am a bit late on breaking the news on this one, but I do want to link to my article reviewing Google Wave that ran last month in the GP Solo Technology eReport published by the ABA. Already, the information appears a tiny bit dated, but that’s just the speed that the Web travels. Check out some of the other great articles too, you might recognize a few names and certainly will pick up some good information!

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Google Goes It Again

Google Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

More interesting news on the search front as Google goodies continue to trickle forth, this time in the form of what’s-coming-down-the-road-for-the-search-giant tips. I read about this on ReadWriteWeb today: Google is focusing attention on new ways to broaden and narrow search, all at the same time. When I say broaden, I am talking about enabling the translation of search queries into different languages so that all of the world’s websites and databases may be tapped. More on the translator gadget can be found here. When I say narrow, I mean tightening  search results to make them more personalized, individualized and social from your subjective perspective. What this really means is tapping into your friend’s content to focus results on sources you trust the most. More on the launching of Google Social Search here. Finally, Google is striving to make your search experience more intuitive: like a benevolent super-computer talking in soothing Hal-like tones, Google aims to be there when you open your browser, presenting you with information you didn’t even yet realize you were interested in. The beginnings of this trick are at play in the recently-announced Google mobile search product, but apparently are expected to extend much further. Telepathy, anyone? Whether it scares or excites, there is no question that Google is on a roll.

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Studio Hits The Big Time! paidcontent.org

Well, this is almost as good as being named a top legal blawg by the ABA ;). Following my rant article about the dumbing down of search, I was contacted by a reporter from paidcontent.org, a sub of the Guardian news outlet. The focus of the site is to “chronicle the economic evolution of digital content that is shaping the future of the media, information and entertainment industries.” The specific site provides global coverage on the economics of digital content.

Mr. Tartakoff was interested in getting my viewpoint on whether there was any reason to use Bing and what should Google do in response to Bing’s growing popularity, particularly in light of Google’s upcoming search announcements scheduled for this coming Monday. Never at a loss for opinions, I gave him probably more than he needed.

Check out the article that appears on the front page. I am pretty stoked!

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