In a world where Google is the most visited website, and “just Google it” is an answer to many questions, are there any up-and-coming search engines with something more to offer than the usual round-up of Google, Bing/Yahoo and Wolfram Alpha?
While Google and its specialised search options (like Google Scholar and Google Blogs) have the monopoly, there are other choices for those looking for a search provider that doesn’t track your queries, store your personal information or fill their results pages with advertising.
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Blekko is a spam-fighting search engine where the search results are biased towards ‘higher quality’ websites suggested by experts and other Blekko users. It works according to ‘slashtags’, which are curated lists of user-approved websites on a topic. Users can include slashtags in their search criteria to influence the results in favour of pages from these chosen websites. By doing this, they can remove many unwanted results from the spam websites and content farms that tend to clutter Google results pages. Users can also create their own personal slashtags to include the websites they prefer and trust, and add the slashtag “/monte” to any search query to compare results from Google, Bing and Blekko.
Duck Duck Go:
One of Blekko’s partners, Duck Duck Go places a strong emphasis on privacy, which makes it a viable alternative for users who don’t like feeding Google (and their advertisers) information like what they searched for and which links they clicked on. It doesn’t track your search queries or log your IP address – so it won’t store information on who you are, what you searched and when. The Duck Duck Go search results page includes a one-line summary from Wikipedia (if the term has a related Wikipedia entry) and related search suggestions in a right hand column, as well as a disambiguation page for terms with more than one possible meaning. It also automatically links to the encrypted, secure version of many major websites like Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia.
Dogpile is a meta search engine. It searches other search engines, eliminates the duplicate responses and returns the results it determines are the most relevant to your search. Dogpile returns results from major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, finding the results which are common to more than one search engine and theoretically more relevant to your search query.
An interesting concept, YaCy is a peer to peer search engine, based on a network of independent users. Users download and install the free software, which indexes the web pages they visit and searches the internet while sharing the results with other YaCy users. As there is no central YaCy server, all users are theoretically equal, which the inventors claim means it is free of censorship and organisational control.
If you’re looking for something specific, there are also websites which are designed for niche searches and can return more focused results than a broad Google search.
Blogs: Technorati specialises in blog and blogpost searches, tracking the influence of bloggers and most popular topics in the blogosphere at the moment.
People: Pipl searches the deep web (parts of the web including online databases and documents that many search engines do not index) for information on people using a name, username and/or location as a starting point. It groups the results into categories like phone directories, physical addresses, online profiles and professional history.
Jobs: Indeed is a job site search engine which trawls career websites for results related to a specific job and location. It’s available in over 50 countries and averages a billion job searches a month.
Books and articles: Worldcat is a valuable tool for students and literary enthusiasts – it searches libraries to find anything from referencing details to audio books.
Video: Blinkx specialises in video search, using speech recognition and video analysis to find video from broadcasters, online libraries and commercial producers. You can also search for lyrics, podcasts and music.
Health: Healthline is a specialised search platform for health-related queries – users can search their database of professional medical sites for information on symptoms, treatments or to find the nearest doctor.