The Other Search Engines

Category: Search-Engines

We’re used to thinking of the Big Three in search engines: Google, Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo! But on a global level, there’s a Big Four. And there are plenty of smaller search sites vying for attention. Here's what you need to know about alternative search engines…

Whales in the Fishtank

In the USA and most of the world, Google has a commanding lead in search, handling about 65% of all queries. Along with Microsoft Bing (20%) and Yahoo (13%), these three comprise 98% of the search market share.

On a global scale, there's a huge fourth player in the search game. Baidu (BY-doo) is a Chinese Web services firm that was incorporated in 2000. Search is only part of its business, just as it’s only part of Google’s business. Baidu also has social networks, and a Wikipedia-style online encyclopedia.

Baidu is second only to Google in the number of search queries processed with 13%, according to the April, 2015, figures released by research firm Net Market Share. And in China, Baidu has a 56% share of the more than 4 billion searches conducted each quarter. With Baidu in the mix, Bing and Yahoo! are tied for third place with 9% each.

Search Engine Alternatives

So what's left? The combined market share of AOL, Ask.com, and Lycos is under 1%. The “Other” category (about 1.5% of all searches) is chock full of search engines you’ve probably never heard of (unless you’ve been reading me for several years).

The continued existence of Lycos surprises me. Once a pioneer of Internet search, Lycos vanished from most people’s radar about ten years ago. Headquartered in Massachusetts, Lycos has only 72 U. S. employees. Since 2010, it has been owned by India’s Internet marketing firm, Ybrant Digital.

In my opinion, Wolfram Alpha is the most important search engine in that “other” category, because its unique “calculated answers” technologies are licensed by Google, Bing, and Yahoo! But you can access Wolfram Alpha directly, too.

What Else is in the "Other" Category?

What is a REAL Search Engine? I don’t think AOL should be considered a “search engine.” Its results all come from Google, with some AOL content thrown in for ad revenue. I could say the same about Yahoo, which has a checkered history as a search engine. Starting in 2001, Yahoo search results were provided by Inktomi, now defunct. They used Google for a few years, and then went "legit" in 2004, creating their own search engine technology and web index. But since 2009 it has been "powered by Bing."

I would not use Ask.com to find a nearby hospital even if my femoral artery was spurting blood clear across the street. It’s owned by InterActive Corp., maker of adware, bogus dating sites, and the infamous Ask.com Toolbar.

Even more on the fringe of popularity are "privacy enhancing" search sites like IxQuick, Startpage, and DuckDuckGo. These sites promise not to share your IP address or personal information with other sites or advertisers. IxQuick and DDG query several search engines and present the top results. StartPage acts as an anonymous proxy to Google.

Some call these sites privacy heroes, but I see them in a more nuanced way. None of them do the "heavy lifting" required to scan and index the World-Wide Web, but they paint those who do (primarily Microsoft and Google) as villains, and profit from their work. Personally, I have no qualms with the privacy policies of Google or Microsoft, and believe that much of the talk on this subject is hype or hyperbole. (See Is Google's Privacy Policy Evil? and Google Security and Privacy Dashboard.)

In addition to general search sites like these, there is a myriad of searchable databases, directories, and Wikis. Some of the most useful and popular ones are:

The Internet Movie Database was started in 1990 by computer programmer Col Needham to index, rate, and discuss movie titles, characters, production staff, and stars. It proved to be a blockbuster idea, and the database was expanded to include TV programs and even video games. In 1998, the IMDB was acquired by Amazon.com, a natural fit for a company that sells digital entertainment.

Wikipedia has singlehandedly decimated the paper encyclopedia industry, with the full approval of tree fans. The collaborative encyclopedia ranks among the top ten sites on the Internet, and is widely considered the most-used reference resource online.

Quora combines a database of writings on many topics with a community of users who may be just the experts, mentors, or sources that you need. You can post questions and helpful experts will answer them.

Dogpile is a “meta-search tool.” It queries multiple search engines and online databases to answer your inquiries.

While it’s handy and simple to “just Google it,” you may also want to check out some specialized searchable resources. Do you have a favorite "alternative" search site? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 8 Jun 2015


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Most recent comments on "The Other Search Engines"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Daniel
08 Jun 2015

From the VERY limited experience I have with QUORA, I have a couple of observations:

1) I like it, but like Wikipedia, it will take a while for it to gather it's legs and give good answers to questions. In the mean time, be careful of blindly accepting answers. Everyone has an opionion, but they aren't all guaranteed to be right!

2) Write your question. Then ask yourself if someone who doesn't know you and therefore can't read anything into your question will understand what you are REALLY asking. I.e., is your question short and precise?


Posted by:

polly
08 Jun 2015

I started using DuckDuckGo several months ago & haven't looked back. It does what I would call a more nuanced search. e.g. If I do a Google search, I get a bunch of totally unrelated garbage. DudkDuckGo is more to the point. It also seems as if Google and Yahoo plant a lot of garbage onto my computer.


Posted by:

prairie dog
08 Jun 2015

Academia despised Wikipedia, but I'll bet a dollar to a dime that EVERY PhD that ever published a page has researched with Wikipedia (Since there was a Wikipedia, that is.) Real research can be done through Wikipedia, every worthwhile Wikipedia article is documented with tons of resources. Then, of course, we have politicians who read Wikipedia articles from their teleprompters and present them as original speeches. I love Wikipedia to the degree of supporting it monetarily and carefully editing any errors I discover as I am using it. It is already the best in the world, I want it to be PERFECT.


Posted by:

Jimmy Clark
08 Jun 2015

I have used Google probably 70% as my go to search. I've tried Bing with good results. Recently I've been using DuckDuckGo and I like what I see. Since I've read this article, I'm going to give Baidu a shot. Thanks for the info.


Posted by:

PeteFior
08 Jun 2015

Hi Bob: I use DuckDuckGo with excellent results! I understand that you "have no qualms with the privacy policies of Google or Microsoft, and believe that much of the talk on this subject is hype or hyperbole".

Personally, I do not trust Google or Microsoft simply because they are too big and powerful, and I believe that "power corrupts" - so I would rather be "safe than sorry" when it comes to my privacy!


Posted by:

Lyrx
08 Jun 2015

I remember Netscape getting hosed by Microsoft internet explorer. As a common user of the internet at that time, it didn't bother me, but looking back, it was sad. Yahoo is passe. Ask.com tries to hard. It's near malware when downloading a lot of programs. I'd like to use Ask occasionally, but when you load it, it's like a virus. You didn't mention Opera.


Posted by:

DanD
09 Jun 2015

With size comes arrogance, superpower USA is a prime example. From all that I have read on the web about Google, I feel that its "Evil Empire, we know who you are" ranking should be noticed. Since switching to DDG, I have found that I am noticably less bothered by unwanted (and sometimes malicious) spam. Maybe it's something I "notice" that really doesn't exist, but I feel better about it.

DanD


Posted by:

Dia
09 Jun 2015

Thanks for this update, Bob. Years ago on the Tour Bus Dogpile was recommended for meta searches. I have been a faithful user except when I go straight to Wikipedia. I find that Dogpile often saves me time trying different search engines with the same query. And of course it does search Google too!


Posted by:

Bob Weaver
09 Jun 2015

Thank you Bob for all your information,, One you might like to research. is RMLSWEB.com RMLS.com
They try to have it both ways, The charge Realtors to post and search listings, and then they sell it to large web sites like RMAX and Coldwell Banker and many more. You can go to several sites For sale by owner, and Zip Realty XRealty and get some of the listing but not all. Plus RMLS is suppose to be an association for realtors, but they take there data and resell it. Worth looking into Bob


Posted by:

Jon
09 Jun 2015

I began to use Startpage because I just got sick of Google giving me a list of suggestions that were unrelated to the intent of my search phrases and made it more difficult to use search terms other than the ones suggested by Google. I wish that I could use a portal like Startpage to access search-engines other than Google. I don't want my search-engine making suggestions to me when I am looking for specific topics.


Posted by:

LeeD
09 Jun 2015

Here's the one I like - 100 Search Engines. What more could you want: http://www.100searchengines.com/
I use it alternately with google.


Posted by:

dave
09 Jun 2015

I use IxQuick...It has a little more user privacy in mind...Well a lot more than gurgle...i'm not a fan of their world domination plan


Posted by:

Kurt
09 Jun 2015

Disturbing to me that Wikipedia is most-used reference resource online. I have found it to be inaccurate just enough times that it does not deserve to be trusted. Yes it is often accurate, but no way to know if/when it is. Then from day-to-day the content on a subject may change -- seemingly arbitrarily. Never acceptable for research or scholarly work.


Posted by:

Patricio Proust
09 Jun 2015

Two very good academic search engines:

OAIster: http://www.oclc.org/oaister.en.html
BASE: http://www.base-search.net


Posted by:

Lucy
09 Jun 2015

I use the AVG search which is powered by Google because I like the feature of stating if a site is considered "Risky / Dangerous ".


Posted by:

RandiO
09 Jun 2015

LMAO [ I like using "Let Me Google That For You (http://lmgtfy.com/)" when I have to search something on behalf of someone else and then return back the lmgtfy link to them!


Posted by:

RandiO
09 Jun 2015

1)Quora requires registration.
2)Quora contains approximately 2,500 topics/fields that user must initially select interest about before searching for anything.
3)If one was only interested in half of these overlapping categories, it would take nearly 15minutes of scrolling down and clicking away!
4)Time it took me to count the Quora categories was 4minutes
5)Time it takes to register is about 30seconds
6)Time it took me to write this reply was 5minutes
7)Productive???


Posted by:

Gary S.
10 Jun 2015

At my age, and close to it, many are searching for 50 yr reunion classmates. Any suggestions on search engines for that, paid or free?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Facebook (free), Classmates.com (paid)


Posted by:

Don
09 Feb 2016

I use this page for my searches.
http://www.linkbahn.com/


Posted by:

putri
18 Nov 2016

Great to see that someone still understand how to create an awesome blog.
Good blog.
Thanks for sharing the information.
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