Everyone has their set of favorite websites. No matter what your hobbies and interests are, I’m sure you can think of at least five websites you love and visit often just off the top of your head. But just like other habits, when we’re set in our ways and our websites, we don’t always remember to look elsewhere.
The World Wide Web is not static, though. It’s dynamic and changing fast, with hundreds of new websites added daily. Do you really want to miss on all that fun? Aren’t you curious about the dozens of new websites out there? What can they have to offer? Similar websites are a great way to discover new websites, while making sure you stay on track and find things you’re really interested in. It’s time to start a new Web journey: use the tools listed below to expand your horizons and find more of your favorites!
Note: To test all these services fairly, I checked what they each had to offer for a huge website like Facebook, and, of course, for MakeUseOf. Read on to see how they fared.
Websites Like boasts to have “the largest index of alternative websites publicly available”, and uses its own algorithm to discover similar websites based on a URL or keyword. In my test, Websites Like did very well with Facebook, suggesting alternatives such as Twitter, MySpace and Orkut. When I entered MakeUseOf, however, it suggested that I try WordPress, Microsoft and IBM to find similar sites. The only remotely similar website I was offered was HowStuffWorks.
Pros: Supports both URLs and keywords, very accurate with big websites.
Cons: Can’t rate similarity, not very accurate with smaller websites.
Another well-designed option, Similar Sites offers much more than just similar websites. When you enter a URL, Similar Sites will show you a list of similar websites complete with similarity scorea, as well as similar visits – a list of website users who visited your query website also visited, and other useful information. In my test, Similar Sites did pretty well with Facebook, offering MySpace, Twitter and YouTube as similar websites, but also thefacebook.com which is just Facebook’s older domain. It also did well with MakeUseOf, offering Lifahacker, HowToGeek and DownloadSquad as similar websites, all accurate matches, although DownloadSquad no longer exists either.
Pros: Offers more than just similar websites, lets you rate similarity, accurate, available as an extension for every major browser.
Cons: Stays as a top bar when you click through to websites, showed websites that no longer exist.
Similar Site Search is a barebones option for those who like to keep things simple. Albeit the very simple interface, it works quickly to provide very accurate lists of similar websites. One of the killer features this website offers is autocomplete – once you start typing in your website, Similar Site Search gives you options to choose from. In my test, Similar Site Search did incredibly well for both Facebook and MakeUseOf. It was the only service I tested that offered Google+ as a Facebook alternative, and for MakeUseOf, it offered Lifehacker, FreewareGenius, Addictive Tips and others.
Pros: VERY accurate, autocomplete, lets you rate similarity, simple interface.
Cons: Old-fashioned design, if that bothers you.
Better known as a bookmarking add-on, XMarks also offers a similar website search based on URL or keyword. You don’t have to install the XMarks add-on in order to use it; all you have to do is head over to xmarks.com and use the search box on the right side of the page. XMarks offers an autocomplete option for both keywords and URLs, which is very convenient. In my test, XMarks did very well with both Facebook and MakeUseOf, although Google+ was nowhere in sight for Facebook. For MakeUseOf I received a very good list including Lifehacker, HowToGeek, GHacks, Engadget and more.
Pros: VERY accurate, includes website reviews and rankings, supports both URLs and keywords, autocomplete.
Cons: Can’t rate similarity.
If you already know all the obvious similar websites and want to really discover something new, try using Similicious. Similicious uses its own algorithms to search for similar websites, and the results are like nothing you’ll find on other services. When I entered MakeUseOf, I got a list of 28 websites, out of which I’ve heard of about 5. While it did include bigger websites such as ReadWriteWeb and HowToGeek, these were hidden way down in the list. The top included small tech blogs I’ve never heard of such as Sizlopedia and SolutionWatch. While this was pretty exciting, Similicious completely failed when I searched for Facebook, offering as list of obscure website, most of which didn’t even exist.
Pros: Highlights small and more obscure websites.
Cons: These small and obscure websites don’t always exist. Also, very barebones, no similarity ratings.
Google Similar Pages [Chrome]
Google Similar Pages is a Chrome extension by Google which uses Google’s algorithms to find similar pages. The extension is still in early beta, so it’s far from perfect, but it’s already a convenient way to find similar websites if you’re using Chrome. The extension adds a button to your Chrome toolbar which you can click when you want to find a similar website to the one you’re currently on. As you can see, the results I got for MakeUseOf were pretty accurate (PCMag, Lifehacker, MajorGeeks, CNET), but there were no previews for any. As for Facebook, I couldn’t even check it because Google Similar Pages doesn’t work with secure websites (https://).
Pros: Very convenient to use, pretty accurate.
Cons: Provides only four suggestions, still has some beta bugs.
Do you know of similar services (pun intended!) that help you explore the Web in this way? Did you discover some new and exciting websites using such a service? Share your experience in the comments.