Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, March 9, 2007

Beyond Google: Cool Search Engines And Search Tools You May Have Not Heard About - A Mini-Guide

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The term search engine is for many of us synonymous with Google - if you're looking to quickly find something online, it usually seems like the easiest option to head on over to Google and see what you can find. But there are hundreds of search tools available that might be better suited to the job at hand. Whether you are looking to track down a particular RSS feed, a photograph, or a local business, there are search engines out there waiting to lend you a hand.

Photo credit: Nikolay Okhitin

There are literally millions of websites out there, and sometimes it hard to see the wood for the trees. Google does a good job of narrowing down the sites you are looking for by working out which websites are the most authoritative for a given subject - the more a site is linked to from different sources, the higher up the ranks it goes. This is as an effective way to sort through the ocean of content out there, but it isn't always effective enough.

Faced with fifty pages of Google hits, it doesn't always work out that the websites at the top of the list are the ones you're looking for. Searching the web is an imperfect art, and getting those elusive words right in the first place can sometimes seem like a nightmarish prospect. When that is the case, however, there are hordes of alternative search engines to step in and lend you a hand.

In this search engine mini-guide I have brought together some of the less familiar offerings from the world of search, and grouped them according to category. This list is by no means conclusive, and will evolve over time to include a greater selection of search tools.

The search engine categories in this guide are:

  • Roll-you-own search tools - search tools that you can customize and in some cases embed into your website or blog
  • Niche-focused search tools - search tools that help to narrow down your results by focusing on a particular niche theme
  • Social bookmarking search tools - search tools that tap into the world of social bookmarking to bring back human-mediated results
  • Meta-search tools - search tools that tap into a number of other search sources to bring you back more comprehensive results
  • Media-search tools - search tools that will bring back results in a specific medium, such as podcasts or photographs
  • Intelligent search tools - search tools that take advantage of artificial intelligence to fetch relevant results for you
  • Search-search tools - search tools that rely on the results of previous searches to focus their results
  • Visual search tools - search tools that display search results through a visual rather than entirely text-based interface

As always, your own additions in the comments below are very welcome, and will be incorporated into future editions of this guide.

Roll-your-own search tools

Should you want to customize your search tool to only search within specific parts of the web, and perhaps incorporate that tool into your blog or website, to assist your site visitors in on-site search activities, you might want to make use of one of the following 'roll-your-own' search tools.

  • Embed a customizable Yahoo!-based search engine on your own web site: Yahoo! Search Builder


    Yahoo! Search Builder is a tool that lets you embed a customizable Yahoo!-based search engine on your own web site. Using Search Builder's features and options, you can focus your search results on a specific topic, choose background and border colors, and your search can even sport your own logo. Yahoo! Search Builder lets you:

    • Search the web, your site, and add news search
    • Style the search box to match your site
    • Customize the search experience to match your users' needs.

    Free to use.

  • Search engine bar that you can include in your own blog or website: Blogbar


    Blogbar is a free search engine bar that you can include in your own blog or website. With Blogbar, you will allow your web visitors to search within your blog/website and search the web with the major search engines, such as:

    Free to use.

  • Customizable search engine provides results from your favorite sources and allows you to create your own search engines: ResultR


    ResultR is a search engine which provides you with relevant information from your favorite sources. Features include:

    • When you search for an item, ResultR returns to you the results from each source and shows them to you in one single page
    • You can create your personalized search engine by selecting the sources that you like and save it to use it anytime you want
    • You don't need to register to create your own search engine

    Free to use.

  • Custom search engine for your web site leverages users preferences: Swicki


    Swicki is new kind of search engine that allows anyone to create focused searches on topics you care about. You can add it to your own websites and, unlike other search engines, you and your community have total control over the results. Features include:

    • Swicki uses the wisdom of crowds to improve search results and presents search results that you're interested in, pulls in new relevant information as it is indexed, and organizes everything for you
    • Results are gathered in a neat little customizable widget
    • that you can put on your web site or blog

    • Swicki also adds automatically its own buzz cloud that constantly updates to show you what are hot search terms in your community

    Free to use.

Niche-focused search tools

The following search tools mark themselves out by focusing on catering to specific niche themes and topics. Rather than trying to bring in the most search results from around the web, they are instead focused on bringing together the most contextually relevant instead.

  • Directory of selected web sites: Best of Web Blog Directory


    Founded in 1994 at the University of Buffalo, Best of the Web is a directory of websites whose aim is to maintain a high standard of listings. Periodical editorial reviews ensure that all sites are appropriately listed in their most relevant category. Features include:

    • All sites included must contain substantive unique content, navigate in a user-friendly manner, contain no broken links or pictures, be up and running 24/7, and conform to universally accepted web standards
    • Best of the Web Directory provides a submission service for webmasters, site owners, and marketing organizations who want to have their site reviewed for inclusion in the BOTW Directory
    • Pricing options for this service range from $49.95 for the annually recurring review to $149.95 for a one-time review

  • Blog search engine reads tags too: Keotag


    Keotag is a tag search engine that displays results by searching within the most popular blog search engines and social bookmarking directories. These include:

    Go to Keotag and enter a query; the service refreshes showing you set of icons with a Technorati graph displaying how active that query has been. If you mouseover the icons you'll get a popup showing you with what search engines they're affiliated. If you click on an icon, a preview window will open bringing you a summary of the content from that site.

    Keotag also provides a tag generator and a social bookmark links generator, which can be very useful tools for bloggers.

    Free to use.

  • Discussion forums specific search engine: Omgili


    Omgili (Beta) is a search engine designed to index web-based discussion forums. Omgili's unique algorithm analyzes forums not as a simple web page, but as an active discussion with a title, topic and replies. Features include:

    • Unlike ordinary search engines that prioritize articles and edited web pages, Omgili only indexes discussion forums
    • Using Omgili's advanced search capabilities you can choose to independently search titles, topics or even just the replies of a discussion
    • Omgili is the DejaNews
    • of web-based discussion forums

    Free to use.

  • Search engine for developers: Krugle


    Krugle is a new search engine for developers. Krugle helps coders and software developers find code, answers while making it easy for them to find source code and technical information. Features include:

    • Krugle allows you to save, annotate and share your search results with others, all from within a single, easy-to-use, web application
    • Krugle indexes programming code and technical documentation from open-source repositories like SourceForge and corporate sites like the Sun Developer Network
    • The new search engine index will contain about 100 million pages from the "technical web"

    Free to use.

  • Multi-language wiki search engine: Qwika


    From the same company that created FactBites, Qwika is a new search engine designed specifically to search through the content available inside wikis. Qwika aims to cover all sizable wikis in as many languages as possible, to translate them into English, and to make them easily findable through its search facility.

    Qwika's technology is designed from the ground up to work with wiki-based content and has a number of unique features of interest to researchers and Wikipedia editors. It is the only search engine to index machine translated content, so that users may search for terms in their own language and see results translated from English. The need comes from the fact that Wikipedia's growth in English is well documented, but other languages lag far behind. After English the next biggest content representation inside Wikipedia is in German (a third of the English one), and then Spanish with a mere tenth.

    The resultant content is machine translated, therefore in much less than a perfect way, but the resulting output is still much better than having no article at all. Further, this new ability provides a starting point for editors to translate manually new content into their own language. So far languages included in Qwika are German, French, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Korean, Chinese and Russian. Moreover, as some country-specific topics are best treated in their native language, Qwika allows this unique content to become available also to English speakers, rolling it all into the one index. Articles from all 11 languages are included in the English language version.

    Overall Qwika has already indexed 1144 wikis including:

    Free to use.

  • Independent filmmakers resource allows to search festivals and competitions worldwide: Withoutabox


    Withoutabox is a resource for independent filmmakers, festival makers, writers and audiences. It provides a network that enables users to search festivals and competitions worldwide and submit their own works. Features include:

    • Through this service, it's also possible to find festival films, buy tickets or DVDs and rate them
    • Withoutabox helps organizing submission process, streamline costs and market to the world
    • Users can upgrade any project from the free "Basic Silver" to a professional "Premium Gold" or "Premium Platinum" level
    • The complete list of pricing and package variations
    • is also available

  • Search platform for finding people in business allows you to edit your professional profile online: Ziggs


    Ziggs is a search platform for finding business people that allows executives to edit their professional profiles online. Users can include their work experience, biography, links to professional interests, and even upload their resume. Features include:

    • Through Ziggs it is possible to meet prospective customers, business associates or employers, thus facilitating new job opportunities and networking
    • Ziggs Profile and Ziggs Profile Manager are free
    • Ziggs WebPro Service, which provides top-listing in all major search engines, is available at $4.95 per month

  • Search for RSS feeds across the Internet by entering tags: Octora


    Octora is a search engine that allows you to find RSS feeds in the Internet. Features include:

    • You simply need to enter a tag and Octora will automatically display all the items related
    • Users are encouraged to submit RSS feeds in order to enrich Octora's database

    Free to use.

Social bookmarking search

Social bookmarking brings a fresh angle to searching the web, relying upon the recommendations of web-surfers rather than the calculations of search engines to provide relevant results. The following search tools tap into the world of social bookmarking to bring back tightly-focused search results.

  • Delicious tags search engine gives insight into best taggers too: Collaborative Rank


    Collaborative Rank is a front-end interface to delicious allowing you to identify relevant resources based not just on raw popularity but also by being able to discover who bookmarks most, best and fastest. Developed by the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Features include:

    • Collaborative Rank is a search engine that gets its unique strength from leveraging the experience and talent of the "Top 500" taggers
    • "Users on who give meaningful tags to helpful/timely URLs (as evidenced by others subsequently doing the same) will be rewarded with higher CollaborativeRank, which means that their tagging will have greater influence on this search engine's rankings."

    Free to use.

  • Search engine helps you find similar articles in the Web based on people's tags/bookmarks on Similicious


    Similicious is a mashup of and that helps you find relevant web sites based on people's tags/bookmarks. Features include:

    • Searches bookmarks, using the engine from Easyutil
    • If you find an interesting article you can paste it in Similicious' search field and find all the articles and posts across the Web that are related to it

    Free to use.

  • Search engine for search news: Pandia Search In Search


    Pandia Search In Search is a search engine for finding news soley about search engines. Covering both search engine blogs and official search engine resources the search narrows down its remit to the specific field of search engine news. Features include:

    • Search all the best sites about search engines
    • Search only the top 25 sites about search engines
    • Sources include ResearchBuzz, Search Engine Land, Traffick and other top search engine news sites

    Free to use.

Meta-search tools

Meta-search tools go beyond the remit of a single search engine, instead drawing on the power of several to produce greater (if sometimes less focused) results. The benefit of using a meta-search engine is that you are not constrained to the particular algorithms of a single search engine, and can as a consequence get a 'best of all worlds' solution to your search term.

  • Supersearch service makes in-depth information research a breeze: Whonu


    Whonu is a web-based supersearch tool like no other one out there. Whonu allows you to apply your search terms to any of many possible different content universes including blogs, RSS feeds, news, standard web search, opinions and review, video or audio-based content, and much more. Features include:

    • With whonu you can select a set of specific web sites and search only through those
    • also allows you to create RSS feeds for any of these searches
    • has a cool, easy and intuitive interface that makes using it simple for any novice or non-technical user. Compile a list of domains, type in your query in the search box provided on the same page, and see what comes up

    Free to use.

  • Search engine enables users to retrieve information from several sources in a single click: FundooWeb


    FundooWeb is a mashup search tool that enables users to retrieve information from several sources in a single click. Modules currently in action are:

    Free to use.

  • Search multiple search engines and information sources by customizing your selection of sources and engines: Opsdo


    Opsdo is a meta-search engine allowing you to search via multiple engines and information sources which are not well covered by major search tools, and to search groups of such sources, e.g. RottenTomatoes, IMDb and Amazon.

    Features include:

    • Type in your search query, select the engine or set of engines that you want to search, and hit enter
    • If you place a query without selecting any engines, the results default to Google
    • If you select your sources but leave your query blank, you will be directed towards the home pages of the engines selected
    • Opsdo also provides a downloadable search toolbar plugin

    Free to use.

  • Search engine that combines technologies of social networking, popular search engines and other data sources: mnemomap


    mnemomap is a search engine that combines technologies of social networking, search engines and other data sources to help you formulate search queries and find relevant information. Features include:

    • mnemomap provides alternative or additional search parameters on-the-fly, such as tags, translations and many other data sources
    • Once you enter your query, mnemomap searches within mnemomaps'database, Yahoo!, Flickr and YouTube

    Free to use.

Media-search tools

Media-search tools help you to track down results in a specific medium. Whether you are looking for a photograph, podcast or video file, using a medium-specific search engine can help you weed out all of the irrelevant data that you aren't interested in.

  • Podcast directory creates one podcast feed for all your favourite shows:

    podfeed_logo.gif is a podcast directory that helps you find podcasts, read and write podcast reviews, listen to podcasts and share your podcast with others. Features include:

    • allows you to add your podcast to their service and also eliminates having to manage multiple podcast feeds by signing up to the myPODFEED service
    • myPODFEED service gives you the ability to create a single custom feed of all the podcasts you're interested in
    • Members can choose to allow other users to browse and subscribe to their custom feeds as well

    Free to use.

  • Image search engine: Ask Pictures Search


    Ask Pictures Search is a new image search engine component part of the news search service. Ask Pictures Search enables you to find any image posted on the web including:

    • animation
    • magazine covers
    • geographical maps
    • celebrity photos, and more

    Free to use.

  • Video search engine that uses a RSS feeds-based technology to find relevant videos across the Web: PureVideo


    PureVideo is a search engine for videos that uses a RSS feeds-based technology to return the most relevant results from sites across the Web. PureVideo also provides charts on the home page, showing you the hottest videos and timely information. PureVideo collects data from:

    Free to use.

Intelligent search tools

Intelligent search tools make use of complex artificial intelligence algorithms to attempt to bring back more 'human' results. These ambitious search tools are an early forerunner of the forthcoming semantic web (a.k.a. Web 3.0), in which a much greater focus is to be placed on helping computers - and especially search tools - to contextualize information.

  • Meta-search engine uses extra intelligence to gather, organize and display search results: Previewseek


    Previewseek is a powerful meta search-engine, showcasing some unique features.
    Previewseek relies on over 35 proprietary, patent pending algorithms utilizing artificial intelligence, Bayesian statistical data mining, word-sense disambiguation, cognitive visualization theory, heterogeneous database querying technologies, and behavioral psychology. Features include:

    • Just type in any search term such as 'Java' and you will immediately see the powerful differences between traditional search engines like Google and Previewseek. Previewseek immediately understands that the word Java can mean many different things. Did you mean Java the island, Java the coffee, Java the programming language, or Javanese (the language spoken by people on Java island)?
    • If you are not sure, Previewseek immediately gives you definitions of each different meaning. On Google, if you were interested in Java the island, you would have to click through over 70 pages of irrelevant results for 'java' before getting to anything useful. Previewseek is more comprehensive as it utilizes all the major search engines to gather the results it displays
    • Previewseek integrates also a full preview feature allowing you to see the actual web pages of all your search results via an image to the left of each result group. Additionally a Preview link for each individual result shows you to exactly what each result page looks like
    • Previewseek clusters results by automatically organizing results based on related concepts or words

    Free to use.

  • Natural language search engine: Lexxe


    While Google and Yahoo refer you normally to endless list of links for any query you submit to them Lexxe has been exploring more intelligent ways to find information for users in a more meaningful way. The Lexxe search engine is built upon the foundation of advanced Natural Language Processing technology, which answers directly and simply to users' queries. Features include:

    • Like a human discussant, it analyses the question, tries to understand the intention of the user and provides a short answer in a few words
    • Lexxe knows how to answer questions such as "Where is Osama Bin Laden hiding?" (in Afghanistan), "How many amino acids are available?" (20), or "Who was the soloist of the Queen Group?" (Freddy Mercury)
    • In addition to the answer, it presents the Internet pages that are directly connected to the question and suggestions for additional search terms that are more focused

    Free to use.

Search-search tools

These search tools that I have gathered under the 'search-search' heading make use of other users previous search data to provide you with a better solution to your own search. As we attempt to narrow down our search to find what we are looking for, we leave behind a trail of search queries. Search-search tools draw on these trails in finding likely appropriate information.

  • Search trails recorder: Trexy


    Trexy is an innovative search support tool capable of tracking and saving your favorite picks after having performed a search engine query. If you have found it before why search for it again? Trexy enables you to keep a track of your successful search trails as well as those of others capable online searchers. Trexy enables the recording of all your searches and the web pages you visited across all the search engines you use. Features include:

    • Create search trails on your favorite engines such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN and many other ones
    • Follow in the footsteps of other searchers who have already found what you're looking for. Trexy helps you to remember where, when and what you have searched for and which web page(s) you visited to find your answer. "My Trails" are your personal collection of trails which you can delete or share at anytime
    • Get a good visual idea of how Trexy works in 2 minutes by looking at this tour page

    Both Trexy and the associated TrailBar are completely free.

  • Keyword research service for better search engine placement: NicheBOT


    NicheBOT is a service that allows you to discover what exactly people search for on the Internet. Features include:

    • Enter a search term, and NicheBOT will return 15 variations of that search term, which people have used to search the search engines
    • This tool is useful for developing lists of keywords for the search engines, and finding new and/or in-demand niches and keyword phrases

    Free to use.

  • Search engine records what people are searching for to rank the quality of sites: Compete


    Compete is a search engine based on Yahoo! that records what its users are searching for to profile any websites they visit. Whenever you search for an item, Compete provides you with information such as site traffic history and competitive analytics, available promotional codes across thousands of online sites. Features include:

    • Site-specific trust scores are based on data from Compete and third party security services
    • Compete provides a personalized page for Compete community members to receive premium content and participate in forums, surveys and other activities that earn Compete Points, redeemable at numerous online retailers, airlines, etc.

    Free to use.

Visual search tools

Visual search tools dispense with the static text-based look favored by most search engines, supplying instead a rich visual interface through which you can interact with your search results.

  • Visual search engine facilitates users by displaying results in a visual map: Quintura


    Quintura is a visual search engine that facilitates users by displaying results in a visual map. To start a search, you enter a starting query in the query box. Once your query is processed, words contextually related to your query are displayed on the left pane of the Quintura window. Features include:

    • A visual map interface which provides hints for possible directions for further searching
    • Quintura allows you to find relevant results among those found by a search engine selected by you

    Free to use.

  • Search engine displays previews of the sites which contain the items you are looking for: Snap


    Snap is a search engine that helps you find relevant results by displaying previews of the web pages it lists. Features include:

  • From the moment you type one letter in the search box, a drop down menu appears instantly, offering popular search terms, synonyms, and other suggestions
  • When Snap returns results, it shows you a preview of the related websites, so that you can guess whether those results are relevant

Free to use.

Additional resources

If you would like to find out more about alternative search engines, you might want to check out the following links:

Written by Robin Good & Michael Pick for Master New Media as:
Beyond Google: Cool Search Engines And Search Tools You May Have Not Heard About - A Mini-Guide

Robin Good and Michael Pick -
Readers' Comments    
2007-04-18 08:39:35

Shashank Garg

have u tried

it is free market research website, which returns result from only news, archive, blogs and Press releases;

posted by Robin Good on Friday, March 9 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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