Is there a viable search alternative to Google?

In light of the “Your World” ruckus that is taking the tech world by storm, including more employees who want to leave, perhaps it’s time to look at a few alternatives to el Goog. What can be assured from the get-go is that none of these pretenders-to-the-throne have anywhere close to the ubiquity that Google has in terms of product diversity and user figures:

Yahoo! (The obvious one)
With 14% of the world’s search engine traffic, the ailing search engine company is the only competitor that, if it got its house in order, could attempt to topple the search giant. Yahoo is still immensely popular in Asia and enjoys a considerable amount of search spend that advertisers place in the region. It’s big in Japan. What users find cool about Yahoo is the availability of popular news and information when they open it up and the filters they can apply to information to refine it. The refining process may be a step too far, but what helps it is the fact that it tries to integrate its other products like email, games, job searches etc on the left hand side of its main page — something Google is starting to do. Which brings us onto Bing…

Bing (Another obvious one)
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Yahoo! is actually Bing, meaning that the search results users see on Yahoo are actually powered by the Bing algorithm and servers. Still, Bing has nine percent of global search traffic, so combined with Yahoo’s 14% it makes a considerable dent in the “don’t be evil” shield. Bing users like the “search history” functionality which allows users to see what they’ve searched before; and what is popular right now in terms of search trends. Google users have to go to Insights for Search to see this kind of data and perhaps that is also one step too far.

Users find it really good for varied information sources on one topic. Addictomatic’s line is that users can “instantly create a custom page with the latest buzz on any topic.” The engine crawls and aggregates other sources and engines like WordPress, Twitter, Yahoo!, Google Blog Search etc but the problem is that it takes forever (longer than 10 secs) to get the customised page completed; by then, most users au fait with search engines have already gone somewhere else.

Wolfram Alpha
Heralded as Google-with-brains (if that is possible) when it launched, Wolfram Alpha is a “Computational Knowledge Engine” in the sense that it can work out scientific calculations like the age of a person based on the amount of days they’ve been alive as well as harbour facts like the distance of the Earth from the Sun. Despite these random examples, Wolfram Alpha is good for comparing things like web statistics to each other, and finding out your own IP address.

Omgili (Oh My God I Love It)
Sometimes the conversations that users have in forums can be just as useful as the actual content we see in blogs and this is where Omgili is in a class of its own. Omgili allows users to find communities of other users that are interested in the topic they’re searching for. It’s ideal for journalists and hobbyists who are looking for groups of people who are passionate about what they are writing about or interested in.

While we could look at over 100 other search engines and talk about comparing them against each other, what’s apparent in the 21st century is that users are looking to consolidate their services on a variety of different devices: some sites and applications work well on the desktop, whilst others are optimised for mobile, an application could work well for iOS devices but could have horrible usability on Android.

Similarly, each different search engine is going to react differently depending on how they crawl their information sources and what services they provide, outside of search, for the user. Creating an umbrella of products that sit together seems to be the holy grail of acquiring users who want a simple, one-stop-shop for all their internet needs and out of the engines above, only Ya-Bing seems to be doing a decent job in the fight against Google.



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