Seven More Alternative Search Engines
When you just aren’t finding what you want via Google, Bing, or Yahoo, it’s time to take a walk down the roads less traveled. Some new search tools are trying to do better than the big boys in terms of providing more useful results. Here are seven more alternatives to the most popular search engines...
Are You Ready to Try a Search Alternative?
I'll admit that I use Google every day, and most of the time, it does the job. But there are quite a few specialized search tools that may do a better job of finding what you're after, or help you get there faster. Over the recent past, I’ve written about alternatives to the Big Three search tools (Google, Bing and Yahoo) and today I've got seven more for you to check out.
But before we jump right in, I want to recommend that you check out my related articles Seven Search Alternatives to Google and Wolfram Alpha - Join the 0.1 Percent! if you haven't already done so. You might find that one of these alternative search engines is capable of finding the information you seek, or helping you to solve a particular problem. Let's take a look...
The Internet Movie Database is an online database of movies, but it also encompasses TV programs, actors, fictional characters, production personnel, and even video games. As of 19 July 2012, IMDb had 2,257,258 films and 4,737,424 personalities in its database. Founded in 1990, IMDB is one of the most popular reference resources online, with over 100 million unique visitors per month. It was acquired by Amazon.com in 1998. User ratings and reviews make IMDB particularly valuable for finding the best films and TV programs.
Blekko follows the venerable tradition of giving goofy names to search engines. Blekko is a curated search engine, which means that real humans help to sort the wheat from the chaff, delivering only the most relevant and informative search results. Blekko relies heavily on its users for recommendations of the best sites to include in top results. If you’ve ever waded through dozens of spammy sites in hope of finding a source of real information, you’ll appreciate what Blekko tries to do. On the other hand, Blekko (by virtue of its human moderators) is inherently biased and subject to censorship. It'll be interesting to see if it gains traction.
User privacy is Ixquick's selling point. Ixquick does not log users’ IP addresses or set tracking cookies on their computers. Ixquick does not index the Web itself, as Google does. Instead, it submits your search query to several other search engines and forwards the results to you. So the other search engines never know who asked. It’s essentially a proxy server for search. Startpage is a sister site of Ixquick, but it searches Google only.
Pikimal is a shopping resource that aims to level the playing field. Starting with a philosophy that the most popular search engines tend to favor companies that can buy their way to the top of the results, Pikimal's algorithm aims to remove the bias of brand names, big marketing budgets and search engine optimization tricks. Instead, Pikimal focuses on the facts associated with products to help consumers make the best buying decisions. You can browse categories or search by keywords. Pikimal users rate the products they find or recommend on criteria that are explained in each list of search results. Information on each product or service is written by Pikimal editors.
Quora is a tools that's great for writers and researchers. But anyone with a burning question can join. Registration is required so that Quora can tailor its results to your needs. On Quora, you search for resources that can be used in your research. That can include people as well as writings of others. The idea is that people who are experts in your field of inquiry will see your question, and help to answer it. Quora covers business, cooking, economics, entertainment, health, politics, science, sports, technology and other areas of interest. You can also create “boards” or mini-blogs to organize and share information that interests you. Kinda like Pinterest, without all the cute pictures.
411.com is an online telephone directory. You can search for people or businesses, or do reverse lookups by entering a phone number to see who it belongs to. To see who lives at a particular address, use the reverse address search option. (Tip: Omit the street number, searching for the street name and town, to get a list of everyone who lives on the street.) You can also query area codes and zip codes to associate them with their related towns. There are lots of online telephone directories. But 411.com is one of the few that doesn't use blatant trickery to funnel you into paid search options. One of the worst is WhitePages.com, which won't even give you a person's phone number for free now!
RedZ is the most bizarre search engine I have ever seen. It looks like the dark, slightly shocking homepage of a deranged video gamer. Gracing the page is the Redz mascot -- an odd-looking red-and-white rubber zebra, which really isn’t what anyone searches for, ever. Search results (which appear to come directly from Bing) are presented as thumbnails of Web pages, not as excerpts of the pages’ text. The idea is actually cool, you can flip through the search results in a carousel fashion, choosing which link to follow based on the thumbnail preview.
But the execution is poor, in my opinion. First, the thumbnails are too small and blurry to give you an idea of what you'll be clicking into. Second, the thumbnails show the home pages, not the actual page on the site that represents the search "hit". So if you click the thumbnail, the page where you end up won't look like the image you clicked. And finally, there's not enough of a text snippet to give you any guidance as to whether or not you should follow any given link. But that's all the opinion of a text-oriented geek. Give it a try and see what you think.
What's your favorite alternative or special purpose search engine? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 1 Aug 2012
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