On the information superhighway, we are at the helm of piloting a browser through the lanes and alleys of the web. To be a good driver, you need to be a master at the wheel. Would it be an apt metaphor to describe Google Search as that wheel which steers us from one lode of information to the next? With the power of advanced search operators at our command, we can navigate the strands of the web with a bit of Boolean logic. We probably know all the Google search tricks, but there are still things that Google can’t tell us at first glance. Google’s a Hercules, but we shouldn’t be shortsighted not to spot the midgets.
Yes, if you really want to go into those little hidden lanes of the web you need to keep a roster of alternative search engines close by. Here’s a roll call of some search engines which can grab for you what even Google can’t.
Curate your favorite links and search through them.
Attrakt works on two levels – it helps you search the web and collect your favorite links in one centralized location. Attrakt then gives you the ability to search through your collected links. You can think of Attrakt as your own customized search engine for curated content. The Italian company calls it a customizable search engine with a social layer. It is an extension of the way we use our bookmarks. Attrakt takes the idea forward by allowing you to make “Boxes” to house your curated links and then searching through them. Attrakt is still trying to reach a critical mass of users that will allow it to expand its index, but till then it is a nice concept which we could do with on Google.
A search engine for the Deep Web.
We have talked about the Invisible Web before. Though, some of the search engines mentioned in the hyperlinked article have fallen by the wayside, the CompletePlanet has stuck it through. It remains a very good resource for searching databases Google hasn’t been able to index so far. As you can make out from the screenshot, CompletePlanet queries highly specific and topical databases (i.e. Dynamic Searchable Databases). Information from these “Deep Web” databases can only be retrieved by a direct query. This is where CompletePlanet comes in. The site says – approximately 70,000+ of the estimated total 200,000 Deep Web sites and about 11,000 of the estimated total 45,000 “surface” Web search sites are presently listed on CompletePlanet.
Describe your need and get the app you want.
Quixey is one of those search tools you need desperately by your side. Why; because Quixey is a search engine for apps. I did a detailed review of Quixey and the title of that article describes it perfectly — Quixey helps you “functionally” search for the right apps based on what you want to do. Google does allow you to search for apps in the usual way and also with the help of its specific search tools. Quixey is backed by Eric Schmidt (Google’s chairman), so you know that it has a serious chance of being a success. The semantic app search engine mines app information from review sites, blogs, social media sites, and additional sources. The function based search allows you to describe your need for a particular app, and it goes to work.
A hackers dream or a cybersecurity tool?
Shodan is a search engine that’s not for everyone. It took me some time to get my head around the highly specialized nature of this search tool. It is a search engine that hunts for computers and peripheral devices connected to computers. As more and more devices get connected to the Internet 24×7, a search tool like Shodan can pinpoint their geographic location. What’s scary (as this CNN article describes it) is that it can play a Jekyll and Hyde role in detecting vulnerabilities in these devices. Unsecured devices can prove to be a backdoor for hackers. On the positive side, it is a valuable ally of cybersecurity experts. The search engine’s prowess also underlines why we must set strong passwords for all our devices.
The search engine for rare diseases. The term “zebra” is a medical-speak for a surprising diagnosis.
FindZebra is a specialized search engine for diagnosing rare ailments with the help of information mined from medical articles on rare and genetic diseases. The search engine has so far indexed data sourced in 31,000 documents covering rare and genetic diseases from 10 reputable sources. The interface is intuitive and minimal and from the looks of it, should be equally responsive on mobiles and tablets. When it comes to rare diseases, Google might fail in giving updated accurate results, but FindZebra could be more direct with it.
A search engine which tells you what to buy.
Google gives us a lot of data to sift through, but it is not a decision making tool when it comes to comparing two or more sets of information and choosing the best among them. Try out Find The Best for making your purchase decisions easier with the ready-made data the search tool throws up. Find The Best has collated retail data on all sorts of products and organized them under nine broad product categories. When you search for a product, the results page gives you visual results supported with filters. You can narrow down your buying decisions by comparing the results across different brands and products.
A search engine for some laughs.
After searching for serious illnesses, it’s time to lighten the mood. Ohmygodlol seems the right fit. The “serious” search engine actually searches for funny pictures on the web. I know Google can also do it with the right combination of keywords, but Ohmygodlol seems kind of easier than mixing and mashing those keywords. Though, behind the scenes it is just a custom Google search. Type a single one in, and the search engine returns funny images from across the web.
Find out with a search!
We continue and end in a lighter mood. Wacko Search as the name says returns completely zany and completely false results. Give it a question and see why ducks get a bad name. Don’t forget to read the About page of the site for some interesting behind the scenes information on the search engine and the wacky duck. The result pages are genuine enough, except they are totally unrelated to the original query. Google doesn’t do this (thankfully)!
It’s not only the force of habit which makes us stick to Google and the regulars. Maybe, you can use neat search tricks and loads of patience to find all the information which these alternative search engines dig up with trusty Google; but then why not keep these specialized search tools bookmarked for the times when Google falls short. And fall short it can. Give its algorithm a break, and try out these eight search engines instead. I won’t need a search engine to trawl through your comments because they will be right below – your views, opinions, and also your personal picks for the best alternative search engines out there. Pause Google.
Image Credit: Internet Search Engine via Shutterstock