Not everything on the web will show up in a list of search results on Google or Bing; there are lots of places that their web crawlers cannot access.
To explore the invisible web, you need to use specialist search engines. Here are our top 12 services to perform a deep internet search.
What Is the Invisible Web?
Before we begin, let’s establish what does the term “invisible web” refer to?
Simply, it’s a catch-all term for online content that will not appear in search results or web directories.
There are no official data available, but most experts agree that the invisible web is several times larger than the visible web. Given that Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook alone store approximately 1,200 petabytes between them, the numbers quickly become mind-boggling.
The content on the invisible web can be roughly divided into the deep web and the dark web.
The Deep Web
The deep web made up of content that typically needs some form of accreditation to access. For example, library databases, email inboxes, personal records (financial, academic, health, and legal), cloud storage drives, company intranets, etc.
If you have the correct details, you can access the content through a regular web browser.
The Dark Web
The dark web is a sub-section of the deep web. You need to use a dedicated dark web browser (such as Tor) to see the content. It’s more anonymous than the regular web and is thus often the home of illegal activities such as drug and weapon sales.
The Best Invisible Web Search Engines
Pipl brands itself as the world’s largest people search engine. Unlike Google et al., Pipl can interact with searchable databases, member directories, court records, and other deep internet search content to offer you a detailed snapshot on a person.
Regular search engines only provide results from the most recent version of a website that’s available.
The Wayback Machine is different. It has copies of more than 361 billion web pages on its servers, allowing you to search for content that’s no longer available on the visible web.
The WWW Virtual Library is the oldest catalog on the web. It was started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the internet, back in 1991.
Volunteers compile the list of links by hand, thus creating a high-quality index of deep web content across dozens of categories.
DuckDuckGo is well-known as a private search engine for the visible web, but did you know the company also offers an onion site that lets you explore the dark web?
Even the regular search engine offers more deep web content that Google. It pools results from more than 500 standalone search tools find its results. If you pair the regular DuckDuckGo engine with the .onion version, you can perform an entire web search.
The onion site can be found at http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/.
The amount of content of USA.gov is seriously impressive. It’s a portal to all the public material you need on every federal agency and state, local, or tribal government.
You will also find information about government jobs, loans, grants, taxes, and a whole lot more. Most of the information on the site will not appear on Google.
The Directory of Open Access Journals is a deep internet search engine that provides access to academic papers. The papers are available to anyone without charge.
The current repository has almost 10,000 journals with 2.5 million articles across all subjects. Google Scholar can access some of the information, but we think that the DOAJ is a better research tool.
The Hidden Wiki is a dark web search engine. It has a .onion domain name, so is not accessible through a standard web browser.
The page itself is a community-edited directory of dark web sites. You’ll find links to dark web social media, commercial services, forums, whistle-blowers, books, movies and TV, and a whole lot more.
Elephind aims to provide a single portal to all the historical newspapers of the world. It’s a fantastic resource for researchers—especially family historians, genealogists, and students.
Many of the newspapers on the site are exclusively on the deep web; they will not show up on Google. At the time of writing, 3.6 million newspapers are available.
For anyone with an interest in humanities, Voice of the Shuttle is an essential resource. The site went live in 1994 and today boasts one of the most impressive collections of curated deep web content.
There are more than 70 pages of annotated links covering everything from architecture to philosophy.
Ahmia is a dark web search engine. But there’s a twist—it is one of the few dark web search engines that is available on the regular web.
Of course, any links and results will not be openable unless you have the Tor browser installed on your computer. However, it’s still a great way to get a taste of what’s available on the dark web without exposing yourself to the inherent risks of using the dark web.
How do you know which books that the different local libraries in your area have in stock? Going through each library’s site individually is time-consuming and potentially error-prone.
Instead, check out WorldCat. This deep internet search engine has two billion indexed items from libraries around the world, including many links that are only typically available with a database search.
If you search for obscure copyright-free ebooks on Google, you’ll have to click through several pages to find a result that provides a download link.
Project Gutenberg offers over 58,000 free ebooks for you to check out and download.
Learn More About the Invisible Web
The 12 search engines we have introduced you to should provide a solid base on which to start your hunt for content.