After summarizing how to use Google to yield the best search results, it’s time to have a look at what is out there besides Google. Although Google tries hard to take over the world, or at least the internet, it’s still far from being a monopolist. Yes, there are many more search engines out there, and here’s a small* collection of unusual and fun search engines you should know about.
(1) Alternative Algorithm & Interface
Mooter organizes each search in clusters of relevant categories, so that you can further dive into specific topics to find specific results. Of course you can see all the results anytime. Nice concept, but seems like the service has not been updated since 2005.
Mahalo claims to be the world’s first human-powered search engine. Organized, comprehensive, spam (but not ad) free. I like it for the sidebar on the right, which contains a lot of information relevant to the search term, such as fast facts and quotes. The rest of the results are pre-sorted into Top 7 links, news, basics and other relevant topics. It looks neat and it’s very thorough and clear. Mahalo (Hawaiian for “thank you”).
From all the search engines I have seen, searchme definitely is the most unique and impressive one. Instead of showing a list of links with short excerpts of the text on the site, it displays a whole page preview for each result and the user can scroll through the pages in a 3D animated interface. The search terms are highlighted within the preview and on top there are a list of possible categories to click for more specific results. A site heavy on system resources, but absolutely beautiful and useful!
(2) Compare & Combine
WebCrawler searches the web’s top four search engines simultaneously. They are Google, Yahoo!Search, LiveSearch, and Ask. Unfortunately, you only see a mashup of the different results, and if you find the results of say Yahoo annoying, you can’t exclude them.
MalaMata is a customizable search engine, so you can tell it which of up to four different search engines it should query. The results are displayed all at once in four separate sub-windows, but you can focus on and switch between them easily.
Very simple, but potentially very useful search engine that lets you query various pages, for example regional Google versions, recipes or shopping sites, simply by entering a letter key (shortcut) behind the search field. All shortcuts are listed for easy reference. The full list contains over 70 search engines and user suggestions are possible and welcome.
Futuristic yet simple interface. From the interactive menu above the search field you can select a category and eventually define a specific search engine, although I wonder why the video search doesn’t offer YouTube as an option. The music category is very cool. It redirects you to a new page where you can browse music by major categories like genre, year, nation, mood, and more. From there you can go into various sub-categories. The music comes via Last.fm Radio. Back to the main page, there is a text menu on top of the page with several categories like Mail, Music and SocialNetwork which open a list of links when you click on them. Quite a nice selection of shortcuts.
From this category, Sputtr is my design über favorite. I love the interface, it’s very well done, and I will definitely use Sputtr on a regular basis in the future. It’s a fully customizable search homepage – your search, your way. So how it works is that you enter your search term in the search field. So far, so regular. To query a specific search engine, instead of hitting enter, click the respective symbol in the list. That’s very cool. And to add even more search engines, customize the page and choose from a comprehensive list. If you find your favorite search engine is missing, simply submit it. Drag&Drop allows you to rearrange icons and in case you don’t like one of them, you are free to remove it altogether. To save your layout, you have to create an account, and I recommend it!
(3) File, Site & Topic Specific Search
[NO LONGER WORKS] PDF Search Engine
A PDF or eBook search engine. It does what it says. Simple and straight forward.
ICONlook [No Longer Available]
An icon search engine. If results are plenty, it makes sense to filter by size. Again, simple and straight forward. Nice interface, too.
I wasn’t quite sure where to put this search engine. At a first glance the interface isn’t very appealing, but it’s functional and that’s what counts. So this is a search engine for files with the option to search specific, suggested pages. The music search for example allows you to query Skreemr and goear among others.
A sound search engine for AIFF, AU, MP3, and WAVE files matching different options such as mono or stereo, minimum resolution, minimum sample rate and maximum file size.
Listen77 & Songza
Both are search engines exclusively for music in the form of mp3’s. Songs cannot be downloaded easily, instead there’s an on-site player which works nicely for both, although Songza is much more pretty. However, despite over a million songs in the database for Listen77 and an undoubtedly popular Songza, both rarely returned more than 50 songs, even for well established artists. Great concepts, but require serious attention, especially filling the music collection.
Deligio should be your first stop when looking for software. Here you’ll be able to discover and share applications for all major operating systems, as indicated by respective symbols next to each search result. Users can rate results and submit software not yet indexed. Clean, simple, useful, it’s as easy as that.
Matching people and electronics. What a neat idea, where’s my PDA, can I print it? No seriously, this search engine is intended for finding product reviews, manuals or more general recommendations. Say you’re looking for a new camera, the result page will list all available models and you can narrow the search down by defining a price range, brands or specific features, and then look at the individual models that remain. I will definitely look at this one when I’m in need of a new digital device, maybe a PDA, finally.
Tag Galaxy basically works like Mooter, organizing results in categories, but its 3D planet interface is much more beautiful and the search engine is dedicated to Flickr images. The site is a 2008 diploma thesis project of Steven Wood from the Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences in Nuremburg, Germany.
Powerset [No Longer Available]
Your search engine for Wikipedia articles.
Word & Biiible
If you ever again have a serious religous discussion, these ones may come in handy. Search the complete text of the Qur’an, New Testament, Tanakh, and Upanishads with Word or just the Bible with Biiible. The latter also features a Verse of the Day. Unusual? Yes! Useful? Maybe. Maybe not.
How to get rid of…
This could as well go into the fun section, but it’s serious and not as silly as it may sound. The source for results is Yahoo! Answers. It really only works for the terms in the A-Z list. Searching How-To-Get-Rid-Of.Info for bug, stain, or hilary clinton didn’t yield a single result.
A search engine community to search only handpicked URLs, rather than the whole world wide web. Every user can add links, create a new, custom Topicle, and rate existing ones. Popular Topicles include Online Shopping, IPhone Applications, and Digital Camera Reviews. The site does not require a signup.
(4) Eco Friendly Search
Saving the environment one search at a time, powered by Yahoo. But how does it work? Greenback Search uses its revenues to purchase carbon offsets from CarbonFun.org. I support the notion, but I remain a skeptic.
You search. They grow trees. They promise to grow 2 trees for every 1,000 searches made. As I look at it 4906 trees have been planted, which equals the recycling of over 5 million Lbs of CO2. I suppose that’s an estimate of saved carbon for the lifetime of the roughly 5000 trees. So it’s not much per year I guess. Meaning you have to use it more! This site is powered by Yahoo as well.
This search engine will save the rainforest. So far 607,000 sq ft have been saved. Again it’s Yahoo technology behind the search results.
And finally, the infamous Blackle, claiming to use less energy, by using black instead of white background. But it only works effectively on CRT monitors, the energy saved with LCDs is minimal. At least this one is based on Google.
The Feckin’ Search Engine of Ireland.
Google search with a unique logo. I’m sure you’ve seen it before. With this one you can also change the font style.
The Shoe Search Engine. For all your Manolo Blahnik needs, and just in time for the Sex & the City movie.
As farmers in Germany dispose their milk on their fields to put pressure on the industry and customers, this search engine hits a nerve.
And here we are, The End. Ideas? Suggestions? Comments?
*Oh yes, seriously! Compared to what is out there, this list is small! ;)