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An upstart search engine some 20-something has developed in a Silicon Valley garage? A search engine that could take little bites at Google’s leviathan footprints?
Hardly. Though, the second part of the above is coming true. But let’s dissuade you from the hype of trying out some new-fangled search engine that has recently been unveiled. If your eyes have already travelled down, you will recognize the familiar names. Your first reaction – duh!
That’s what I hope to highlight – the four websites are search engines in their own right – or to be more accurate – “internal search engines“. You could do yourself a favor by opening another tab and diving into their depths when your next search comes along.
The Big Question – When Not To Google?
“Bing it” hasn’t caught on. “Google it” has. We equate Google with research. The comScore report for April shows it holds a massive 67.6 % of the search pie in the U.S. alone. But search is also about discovery. With the large amount of information available today, even Google may not make the cut always. Alternative search engines look at search in different ways. Some tout privacy…while some go for specialization.
The four below have a common factor – they are all user-curated platforms. They may not be search engines by the strictest definition, but they are huge reserves of data. They do not index with bots but the massive user base is exponentially adding to the information they store every day. So, if you are asking – when not to Google, these four biggies could have the answer.
More than 30 billion pins for your visual discovery.
That’s a BILLION.Pinterest is probably the “search engine” you should head to for seeking inspiration. Pinterest is extremely visual and that’s what works in its favor. It’s also less complicated than Google, so it works just as well for computer neophytes.
Type “cable organization ideas” in Google and you will get links to umpteen sources to trawl through. Type the same on Pinterest and instantly you have hundreds of pins to choose from which show you at a glance just how the finished job would look. You can always click through to the original source of the pin and read in more detail about it.
Visual search only gets better with Guided Search on mobiles. Think of it as Google Image Search on steroids. If you don’t know what you are searching for, Guided Search takes you deeper and deeper into Pinterest with suggestions and visual cues. And – you don’t have to type a thing. That’s definitely more than what Google does.
Places, DIY craft ideas, food & drink, home decor, and fashion are some of the hot areas on Pinterest. As this infographic from Shopify shows, it is also driving retail search with some help from its Rich and Promoted Pins.
100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
If we go by number of searches alone, YouTube is just behind its parent – Google. As I tried to show in an earlier post on alternative uses of YouTube, you can use it to search for how-to videos, Creative Commons clips to use in your projects, homeschooling study material, the right exercises to do, or just follow a hobby as my friend Erez does with these YouTube woodworking channels. YouTube sees more searches around products and services than any other social network. If you are searching for something to buy, it makes sense to search YouTube and see it in its animated video glory.
YouTube may not be great with almost real-time results and EVERYTHING but there are three factors in its favor as a constant search source – a) Google displays YouTube video results b) Many companies and publishers are optimizing video content for YouTube…and c) YouTube uses some of the same advanced search operators as Google.
If you have a business, you can search YouTube and see what others in your niche are doing. It’s even better if they don’t have too much of a presence here. It could be your spot to promote.
The “Quiet Giant of Content Marketing” with 15 Million slideshows uploaded
Slideshare is the largest place on the Web for sharing presentations, since 2006. But that is one of its more direct uses. Slideshare also comes well-recommended as an alternate medium for promoting content and professional branding. It is also a part of LinkedIn and well-integrated with it. You will find individuals like Guy Kawasaki, and public institutions like the White House here as well.
You can view presentations on any topic, or use it more deliberately for research. The Advanced Search feature of Slideshare allows you to search for presentations, documents, Zipcast videos, and also infographics. You can search for content in multiple languages and also get to download some slides.
If you are researching for your site, blog, or business, a search can net you some visual inspiration. Slideshare is also great to scope out what others in your niche are doing as well. The top influencers on Slideshare are the Who’s Who sharing unique content. A very professional user base is the common factor.
The world’s largest retail search platform.
It is very likely that if you are searching for a product to buy, you start with Amazon rather than Google. Powered by A9.com, you can do a lot with Amazon Search – and you can do it for free on Amazon. If you are looking to do some product research or source ideas for a book, an Amazon search could be a good place to start. For instance, Amazon’s Advanced Search for books is armed with the right filters. If you are writing a book, an Amazon search could reveal similar book titles, and enabling you to think of a different one.
Searching and studying bestsellers on Amazon tells you a lot about the target market and how you can tailor your marketing plan for online sales. Top-selling books also indicate the kind of books publishers are looking for. Looking into the reviews (and not only the good ones), is a fair indicator of consumer sentiment.
Amazon has different kinds of search engines. Did you know that you can search Amazon user reviews too? You can see it on the top-right of any Customer Review page. You can limit your search to the specific product or extend it all products.
Are You Too Distracted By Google?
Consider all forms of search when looking for needles in haystacks. Too much information is a boon and a curse. Spreading our search net far and wide helps us discover content that Google might have missed, or might not have caught on its first page. Which are the alternative search strategies you use? Or are you too dependent on Google to give you the best of all worlds?
Image Credit: Todd Chandler (Flickr)