What would be your first reaction if you saw this? Scared, because your life is completely enslaved to Google. Or, hopeful because this suggests that something better has already arrived?
Well, no one is chipping on that digital tombstone yet. But right now, go ahead and feel both those above emotions for a moment. Yes, Google has fenced us in and completely tethered us. And, let’s be hopeful because that better search engine is going to arrive. From all signs, it is going to Google armed with Frankesteinian artificial intelligence.
But it does not mean that there is no grass outside that fence. There are some patches of green – because let’s face it – Google Search still can’t do everything. They just have close to a million data servers. A few alternative search engines have stepped in and mounted a challenge.
These Search Engines Do What Google (Still) Can’t
Some are worthy contenders for the second-place medallion while some are just go into those niche corners of the web. Let’s take an interest in some novel search engines that reach the little cubbyholes where even Google can’t.
1. Ecosia — The Search Engine with a Heart
Google does good for the world in its own way. Ecosia does its bit in a small way. As you browse, the 80% of the ad profits go into programs that help to plant trees in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Indonesia and Peru. The search engine uses a modified Bing custom search. You can use Ecosia on your desktop computer or laptop and also on iOS and Android.
Read through their FAQ where they open up about the project and also show you the progress of their planting programs.
2. Qwant — Keep Your Privacy
Even when you are connected with an ID, we don’t use any cookie nor any other tracking device when you browse the site.
Local storage on your machine is used to save your settings and data. Any personal data connected to your ID is also deleted after you cancel your account.
3. Peekier — Security, Privacy, and No Tracking
Any search engine that does not store user data is always worth a try. Peekier is among the new privacy-conscious search engines that were made popular by DuckDuckGo. Their policy reiterates that do not log your personal info or track you throughout your browsing sessions. You also might like the clean design and the fast results delivered in little preview cards. The search results are taken from Bing.
Click the hamburger icon on the top right to tweak the settings. Peekier auto-suggests search keywords and you can further refine them with more keywords integrated in the search bar after the results.
4. SearchTeam — Search with Your Team
Google has some wonderful collaborative apps. Google Search isn’t one of them. This gap is somewhat plugged by SearchTeam which calls itself a “collaborative search engine”. It’s a good concept for teams who want to save time when they are looking for the same things.
A few more things to try out — use SearchTeam to plan a vacation with family members and friends. Try to plan a reunion with your extended family. Or, research the web for a medical condition.
Invite others into your SearchSpace with email. If you log-in with a Facebook account, SearchTeam will automatically suggest the people you want to invite. SearchTeam has only one obstacle – it is not free like Google. You can try out the interesting idea with a free trial account till the founders offer a free version.
5. Yippy — Declutter Your Search
Yippy is bit more than a traditional search engine. Some of you might remember it by its old name – Clutsy. And as the old name suggests, it de-clutters search results by tapping into several search engines. It then combines the results and groups similar results into groups. You can shovel deeper into your search with the group keywords on the left.
The meta-search engine also filters out undesirable results, so you can recommend it as a good educational search engine for kids.
6. Kiddle — Do Child-Safe Searches
Let’s talk about kids. Google isn’t a great product for kids even though there is a SafeSearch bouncer at the door. Kiddle is a nice alternative for family-friendly search. But do note that it is not an official Google for Kids product. The search engine is a customized version of Google that is more visually appealing for kids.
Big thumbnails, images, fonts accompany the kid-safe web, image, and video search. Do tell us in the comments if Kiddle manages to keep every search kid-safe or some unwanted results slip through.
Search the Web with These Niche Search Engines
7. JustWatch — Find What’s Streaming
JustWatch has one purpose only – turn you into a movie and TV series addict. We don’t mind. Online streaming is sending cable back to the dinosaur age. So, if you are a cord cutter you would want to discover where your favorite show is on next. It’s also a shortcut to find out what’s new on each streaming platform.
You can customize your preferences and use the easy filters for providers, many different genres, IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes ratings, prices, HD/SD, or release year. JustWatch also has apps for Android and iOS.
8. Giphy — For All Your GIF Search Needs
It is just possible that our grandchildren will be communicating in GIFs only. Okay, that’s farfetched. But, you can be prepared if the animated dystopian future comes true with Giphy. Google does a good job of finding animated GIFs now, but I bet the world still flocks to Giphy through their mobile keyboards. Try it out on the desktop next time.
9. iFind3D — Find 3D Printable Models
Google Search still hasn’t caught up with the wave of 3D printing. But this search engine steps into the niche. It is still in beta, but nearly 800,000 models from different model collections should be enough to inspire your next 3D design.
You can check out the complete details of the design. Save it or download it for your own work. Do note that many designs are paid but you can filter them out from the search page.
10. NASA Images — The World’s Largest Stock of Space Photos
Any space and science lover could fall in love with this one. This is an amalgamation of image, audio, and video resources from more than 60 different locations into one searchable index. Search, discover and download a treasure trove of more than 140,000 NASA images, videos and audio files from across the agency’s many missions through history.
NASA has laid down some usage guidelines. But news outlets, schools, and text-book authors can use NASA content without needing explicit permission.
11. Libraries.io — A Open Source Discovery Service
Are you a coder or a web developer? Give this search tool a try for your next Open Source project. Libraries.io helps you find libraries, modules, and frameworks from the open source ocean. Their plug says that they monitor 2,285,392 open source libraries across 33 different package managers.
Search projects by language, license, and keyword. The site will also notify you of new releases when they become available.
12. SearchCode — Search Code Snippets
Stay with the project you are trying to complete. This search engine for Open Source code might just help you get through the tough parts. The results are gathered from Open Source repositories that are indexed and searchable. The search goes into 10+ sources and covers 90 languages.
Code search can get complex. So, use the filters to narrow it down to a specific source, repository, or language. Results will be displayed with the relevant lines highlighted.
13. Ludwig — A Linguistic Search Engine
I thought Google Translate could handle it. But Ludwig is an interesting language search engine that approaches from the other side. Don’t type the sentence you want to translate. Type the best guess of the English translation you need.
The search engine compares your approximate sentence with a database of contextualized examples taken from standard sources like The New York Times, PLOS ONE, BBC and scientific publications. Check the list of results against your first sentence and learn the correct one.
Expand each sentence in the results to see it used in context. My first few attempts left me confused but then I am fluent in the Queen’s language. Nevertheless, it is an interesting way to learn the English language in the garb of a search engine.
Do You Rely Only on Google?
These search engines aren’t about overpowering Google. Think of them as “specialty” search tools. In any case, Google might be the 800-pound gorilla on the web, but there are several good options for niche searches.
Meanwhile, the search for an unbiased search engine continues. Till then, learn tips and tricks to improve the way you search. And for alternatives to Google’s suite of apps too, check out reasons to try Zoho.
Originally written by Kabir Chauhan on Jan 18, 2009