by Will Roby
There are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of alternatives to Google for different kinds of
Internet research, but Google dominates the search market so
dramatically that a lot of people haven't even heard of the
alternatives. Heck, how many other search engines can you name that
have become verb? Google would like you to think that Google IS the
Internet, but it's not. You have choices when using the Internet,
and if you're serious about your research, you won't limit yourself
by just using Google.
Though Google dominates the search engine market, with more than
400 million Google searches taking place daily, there are plenty of
alternatives to even the most basic web queries. Semantic search
engines use context and a user's search history to provide more
- Bing -
Bing is Microsoft's search engine answer to Google. Bing is a
semantic search engine, and is in the process of powering all
Yahoo! search results as well. Bing's front page is decidedly
flashy, especially compared to Google's plain white background.
Reportedly, Bing is faster in terms of indexing and processing a
new page than Google, though Bing is still second-banana to
Google in popularity.
- Blekko -
I'm sure that Blekko hopes that slashtag searching is going to
take over the Internet, but I don't see it happening. That being
said, Blekko is a terrific search engine that often provides far
better results than Google. Blekko does not index as much of the
Internet as Google does, but they've done a better job of
providing spam-free results.
- A hybrid search engine and answer site, ChaCha hands out free
real-time answers to user's question. You can access ChaCha
online at ChaCha.com and with your mobile device. ChaCha has
answered more than a billion questions as of this writing, and
its question and answer format is a great foil to Google's more
IceRocket - A search engine geared more towards Web 2.0 and
social networking, IceRocket is one of the best blog searches
online. Backed by Mark Cuban and originally marketed exclusively
by word of mouth, IceRocket's real-time searches are often
better than Google results, especially when it comes to blog and
social media queries.
- The most remarkable thing about ixquick is that they don't
store your IP address, use tracking cookies, or otherwise invade
your privacy. Not nearly as robust an engine as Google, and not
features-laden like Bing or other big name engines, ixquick has
cut out a nice niche for itself by capitalizing on the privacy
aspect of web searches.
- Serving more than 100 million customers, and ranking in the
top 100 websites in America, local.com prides itself on helping
people find local services from local businesses. You can search
for businesses, coupons, reviews, and local events and
activities from a single search page.
- MoJeek capitalizes on the best aspects of Google (a clean user
interface and unique site indexing) while also promising to
provide their users with privacy protection. MoJeek is the
world's largest independent webcrawler based search engine. on
the web. MoJeek is interesting because it creates its own
database for web searches rather than depending on other search
engines results or paid listings.
- Soople, an Old English word that means "to soften," is a fully
featured search engine that doesn't require the syntaxing
required by Google. Using Soople, you can filter your search
results by a site type, a file type, a file size, and other
categories without using Google's complex syntax searches. In
that way, Soople "softens" the syntax requirements of Google,
making it easier to find the files and results you want without
needing to know shortcuts.
SurfWax - Calling itself "Dynamic", SurfWax is a
semantically and lexically-enabled search engine that uses a
combination of technologies to assist you in your web searches.
SurfWax includes personalized search sets and a subscription
service that's even more features laden than the free version.
Like other semantic and lexically-driven search engines, SurfWax
suggests search terms and results as you type.
- This ontological search engine searches for RDF documents also
known as semantic Web documents. A search engine for ontological
search engines, you probably won't have any use for Swoogle
unless you're a major web geek. Still, it makes this list
because it is much better at searching for semantic web
documents than Google.
TurboScout - Head to TurboScout to search multiple engines
at once. With a single mouse click, you can access Google,
Yahoo, MSN, Ask, A9, Alexa, Alltheweb, Clusty, DogPile, ixquick
and about a half dozen other Google search engine alternatives.
Save time retyping search keywords and check search results of
all of the most popular search engines right from TurboScout's
- VMGO -
VMGO gives users the ability to control search engine results.
Using a familiar "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" logo, users can
effectively rank their own search results. VMGO's search engine
remembers all these results and uses them to inform future
searches. An easy to use "mark as spam" feature makes getting
rid of spam search results as as easy as clicking a link.
Web 2.0 - Search a huge list of Web 2.0 sites with this easy
to use and well designed Web 2.0 search engine. Web 2.0 refers
to any site that emphasizes user collaboration and social
networking. When you're looking for sites with Web 2.0
functionality, Web 2.0 search engine is the most valuable search
engine, returning many more targeted and accurate results than a
traditional Google search.
Wolfram Alpha - Billed as a new kind of search engine,
Wolfram Alpha structures search results as a series of
computations and facts rather than links to specific websites.
Wolfram Alpha spits out visual and factual results compiled from
a webcrawler to answer computational questions. Wolfram Alpha
isn't the place to search for celeb news or a recipe, but is
much better at returning factual results and answers to research
queries than Google.
- Yippy goes out of its way to advertise the fact that it both
protects user's privacy and shields them from potentially
dangerous, pornographic, or otherwise inflammatory search
results. Private, protected web browsing is a growing field
among search engines, and Yippy is a robust search engine that
also happens to protect their user's privacy and filter out
potentially harmful results.
Zuula - A highly customizable search engine, Zuula presents
their sponsored links in a separate field from traditional
search results, making it very plain which of their results are
paid for and which are actual web search results.
Multimedia Search Engines
Searching for video, audio, or any other type of media requires a
different sort of search. Yes, Google has image search, video
search, and even a blog search, plenty of other sites can mine the
Internet's massive media library to help you find what you're
looking for. Here's a list of the best multimedia search engines.
- AOL Video
Search - What we like about AOL's video search feature is
the uncluttered interface, the heavy categorization (videos
about pets, videos about style & fashion, comedy videos, etc.),
and the easy to access and easy to browse AOL Picks slideshow.
Is it any better than other video search services online? You'll
probably get the same results from an AOL video search as you
would with a Google video search, but the interface is easier on
the eyes and more organized.
- Calling itself "the world's largest and most advanced video
search engine," blinkx digs through 40 million hours of online
video content. blinkx is one video search engine that can
actually boast that it is "better" than Google or Yahoo! because
it uses video search specific means of hunting down video,
rather than using a purely text-based search algorithm for media
content like its competitors.
Clipblast - Fully customizble and featuring over a dozen
media partners like Discovery, BBC, and PBS, Clipblast is
another good video and media search engine alternative to
Google. You may not find different results using Clipblast than
you'd find at other media search engines, but many users prefer
the interface and customization Clipblast provides their users.
C-SPAN Video Library - A massive library archive of C-SPAN's
programming, the C-Span Video Library contains more than 170,000
hours of C-SPAN programming. In fact, this video archive
contains every minute of C-SPAN programming since 1987. That
means you can watch interviews, debates, legislative action, and
Senate and House votes on every issue major and minor since the
late 1980s. If you're looking for video content about the US
government, American politics, or even books and media awards
and speeches, searching the C-SPAN Video Library provides a much
more targeted set of results than a generic Google media search.
FindSounds - Online since the year 2000, FindSounds is the
number one place to search for sound bites, sound effects, and
even music online. Search through millions of sounds to find
what you're looking for. Google searches for sound effects and
sound media are notoriously difficult and limited to their
text-based search terms. FindSounds is a larger and easier to
use sound search site.
- last.fm -
Last.fm changed the way we listen to music online. Last.fm is
essentially a music recommendation service with a big social
media tie-in. Not only does last.fm keep track of what you
listen to, how often you listen to it, and your basic musical
likes and dislikes, it allows you to share this information with
friends and other last.fm listeners.
LivePlasma - LivePlasma is the most fun you can have with a
music search engine. Looking to do research on new music, bands
you already love, or bands you haven't heard of yet?
LivePlasma's visual search results show you, through a unique
graph interface, how The Smiths connect to The Moldy Peaches, or
how you can get from Okkervil River to OutKast. A great
time-waster and music search resource, LivePlasma puts other
music search engines to shame.
- What to
Rent - What to Rent is good for more than just a movie
recommendation service. When you join What to Rent, you answer a
series of somewhat bizarre questions to help the site learn
about you and your preferences. Questions like "How long does it
take you to sleep at night?" and "How much money would it take
for you to wear a fanny pack the rest of your life?" seem
outside the scope of a recommendation service, but help the site
learn what to recommend to you. It's fun, it's free, and a great
- ZapMeta is another metasearch engine that lets you hunt for
images, videos, music, sounds, and other media files (as well as
more traditional web searches) across multiple search engines
from one search box.
Unusual Search Engine Alternatives
Some search engines defy categorization, either because they have
a unique angle on web searches or because they search for a specific
type of result in a niche market. These unusual search
engines can lead you to an entirely different set
of results from a standard Google search.
- BookMach is an index of 4,000 blogs, magazines, and other news
and reference sources judged by the site to be of high quality.
The idea is to create a search engine that looks for high
quality results from qualified sources without spam or sponsored
links. Using BookMachs, you can build your own network of search
sources and create alerts when certain search terms appear from
- Search the Web, Twitter, images, videos, news, and blogs all
at once with Collarity.
FactBites - FactBites' motto is "where results make sense."
The goal of FactBites is to provide relevant search results
based on the content of the sites that pop up after a web search
rather than the popularity of those sites. That's why FaceBites
is superior to Google when it comes to web searches for
research. Whereas Google will rank your results based on their
popularity, FactBites analyzes the content on the sites and
spits them out in order of relevance.
- Feeds 2.0
- Feeds 2.0 is an RSS aggregator built with Web 2.0
functionalities. Feeds 2.0 is more of a learning engine than a
search engine. Rather than just spitting out results for web
searches, it learns over time to prioritize the information it
finds based on the individual user's interests and past web
GigaBlast - The only thing truly unique about GigaBlast is
that their ten million plus search queries per day are powered
by clean energy. More than 90% of the power running GigaBlast's
servers comes from clean wind energy. The site also links
directly to what it calls its "coal-powered competition" in case
you don't like the results you get from GigaBlast's clean energy
- Gnod -
Gnod is an experiment in semantic search engines. Currently
broken up into categories like music, film, and books, gnod
makes recommendations and helps you with web searches by asking
you questions and learning about you over time.
- Currently in beta, GoshMe promises to be a search engine
for search engines, digging through the search results for your
query provided by other search engines and suggesting which
search engine's results are best for your specific query. Beta
testing spots are still available, so if you want to try a truly
unique search engine experience, check out GoshMe in beta.
- Rollyo stands for "roll your own." Like rolling your own
cigarettes, Rollyo lets you roll your own search engine,
customizing your searches to only come from sources you trust.
You can alter your Rollyo at any time and even share your
results and your personalized search engine with social media.
- Sphider isn't your usual web search engine, but a PHP tool
used by web developers and designers on their own sites.
News Search Engines
Despite the ubiquity of Google News,
news search engines are alive and well. When you're
looking for a news item, throw in a couple of searches from one of
these sites in addition to your Google News search.
- Collecting results from more than 25,000 trusted sources,
Congoo is a totally free real-time news, networking, and
research engine. CONGOO is unique because it combines real-time
news results with information and blog posts from various
industry insiders. A wonderful resource for the average Internet
user and the Web scholar alike, CONGOO claims it "provides an
unparalleled sense of connection with industry."
- Daily Earth
- Online since the year 2000, Daily Earth is a global newspaper
directory. You can link from Daily Earth directly to pretty much
any newspaper in the world that maintains a web presence. You
can also search a ton of other news and research sites right
from the Daily Earth homepage. Search every online newspaper in
the world from a single text box.
FindArticles - Part of the CBS Interactive Business Network,
or BNET, FindArticles searches tons of different news and media
sources. You can select to search from a specific source, a
group of sources, the Web as a whole, or the BNET library.
- High Beam
- High Beam has received recognition from The Wall Street
Journal, The Washington Post, and other amazing publications as
one of the best research tools online. Though the service isn't
free, it is a smart investment for college or postgraduate
students and business or science professionals for whom academic
and scholarly papers are a must have. HighBeam is an online
research tool that lets users search more than 80 million
articles from the archives of over 6,500 newspapers, magazines,
journals, and other reputable publications.
NewsNow - Independent news aggregation services are rare,
and ones that are as quality as NewsNow are even more so. With
links to breaking headlines around the world, NewsNow is more
than just a news search engine, it helps you stay on top of news
on a global scale. NewsNow has tens of thousands of source
publications, including some of the top news brands in the
world. Boasting 120 million page views per month, NewsNow is
where people all over the world go for breaking news.
RocketInfo - Calling itself an online newspaper, RocketInfo
is actually a news aggregation service. News sources and feeds
that RocketInfo pulls from include Feedzilla, Yahoo, and the
BBC. Other sources include Reuters, Metacafe, News Corporation,
About, BBC, and The Sun, and RocketInfo also mines blogs and
other sources for relevant news and information.
- SRCHR -
SRCHR's Sandbox feature lets you create a customized news and
web search from dozens of different sources. You can pick from
standard sources like Google web searches or throw more obscure
sources into the mix, like blip.tv and eventful.
Part sandbox search engine and part newsfeed, SRCHR is a must
bookmark for news and web search junkies.
- Wikio -
Part information portal, part social media site, part web
search, and part news search engine, Wikio is a fully
customizable news and research page featuring a robust news
search engine that searches a ton of media sites, blogs, and the
contributions of other Wikio members.
- Yahoo News
- Sick of looking at Google News? Yahoo News isn't much
different, but at least it provides a change of pace and color
- World News -
World News is unique because it provides the same wide scope of
world news as other news search engines but it does so in 50
different languages. Online since 1998, World News is currently
made up of 75 million pages full of information and breaking
news on every topic under the sun.
Social Networking Search
Some search engines have a social aspect, allowing users to share
their results with friends, connect their search results to existing
social media accounts, or depend on results other users have found
to provide the best search results possible. Here's a list of
social networking search alternatives.
- Decipho is a search engine built like a social network.
Decipho users find and search for stuff alongside their friends,
create user profiles, tag and save websites, and share their
results with other members. You tag your searches and add those
tagged links to different networks.
Del.icio.us - The largest collection of bookmarks in the
world, Del.icio.us is the social network/bookmarking site that
all other sites of its kind want to imitate.
- Digg - Digg
is another social bookmarking site where users share and
discover content they like from any Internet source they find.
Everything from major news outlets to obscure blogs is covered
by Digg bookmarks, and users vote content up and down creating a
unique bookmark hierarchy.
- Using a protocol they refer to as "integrative search
workflow," Mnemomap provides a truly unique way to search the
Internet. Combining the best aspects of social networking,
traditional search engines, and the semantic Web, Mnemomap helps
users build better searches to find information that's actually
relevant to what they're searching for.
- Trexy -
This social search engine combines your own web searches with
similar search trails left by other users. Trexy's been around
since 2003, and though it hasn't caught on the way other social
networking search engines have, it has a loyal following.
- A combination web search, social media site, and
user-controlled search engine, URL.com uses their user's
searches and opinions to constantly update and evolve the way
their web searches work. Share your bookmarks and search engine
results with others to build a better engine.
- WebBrain is an attempt to make web searches and online
information more like a human brain. This non-linear interactive
search engine and bookmarking site lets users share information
and bookmarks in their own way, making connections the way the
human mind does. Like a social bookmarking site on steroids.
Dictionary and Reference Search Engines
When you're hunting for information about words, scholarly
articles, or reference material on any subject, these Google search
engine alternatives are much easier to use than digging through
Google's search items.
Data Web - The Data Web calls itself "a unique data mining
and extraction tool." Basically, The Data Web allows you to
create your own variables and then recode that information
however you need. This tool helps you search for information
then recode it into any form you want, be it a data table, a
chart or graph for a visual presentation, or an html webpage.
You can save your information as you go and work on it later.
Totally unique and useful tool for Internet research.
- INFOMine is like a virtual library stuffed with Internet
resources that are relevant to anyand all faculty, students, or
researchers. Aimed at university students and teachers, INFOMine
is a collection of databases, electronic journals, electronic
books, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, bulletin
boards, and many more sources. Built by librarians at the
University of California, Wake Forest University, and the
University of Detroit, INFOMine is a reference search engine
made for and by university students and educator.
Help Net - An RSS newsfeed, search engine, and resource full
of links to scholarly information, Mental Help Net is designed
as a one stop resource for all things related to mental health
on the Internet, from advice to scholarly research.
MetaGlossary - MetaGlossary gathers definitions and research
from the entire Internet, making it the world's largest,
constantly-updated information source. MetaGlossary aims to be
as dynamic as the Internet itself, promising to offer only the
latest news and research. Try MetaGlossary for concise, direct
explanations and definitions for terms and phrases from all
fields of scholarly research.
National Science Foundation Grant Search - Find funding
opportunities from the National Science Foundation with this
useful grant and funding search tool.
Scholarly Societies Search - Search through thousands of
scholarly societies and organizations to find information on
joining, participating with, and researching these groups of
professionals in all walks of life.
SPN - Search through thousands of records of research and
articles on all topics concerning mental health, psychology, and
the study of the human brain.
Ultimate Email Directory - Need to find someone's email
address but have no idea where to start? Email databases are all
pretty much the same, why not search all of them at once? You
can search by first name, last name, city, state, and even do a
reverse email address lookup.
UN Data Search - For statistics and research conducted by
the United Nations, check out this gargantuan database. You can
find everything from drug use statistics, population numbers,
and everything in between from a single site, all certified
accurate and citable from the UN.
ZabaSearch - The ultimate people search, ZabaSearch provides
information from multiple public record sources. Find people's
addresses, phone and other numbers, and even get access to
background checks, credit checks, and other information.
ZabaSearch beats the competition by a mile.
Real Estate Search Engines
Google spits out a lot of irrelevant results when you're
searching for real estate related phrases. Try any of these real
estate search engines to get a more relevant set of
ForSaleByOwner.com - At ForSaleByOwner.com, you can search
the largest listing of homes being sold by their owners. This
means the homes are being sold without the help or expense of a
realtor, so you save on commission.
- Inman News
- Offering news reports, video, commentary from experts, and
some social Web 2.0 functions, Inman news is a leading source of
independent real estate news, information, commentary, research,
and advice for both industry professionals and amateur real
estate consumers alike.
Realtor.com - Realtor.com is the official website of the
National Association of Realtors. This site allows you to search
realtor listed properties all over North America, and contains
solid advice about every step in
the process of buying a home in America.
RealtyTrac - RealyTrac contains listings for over a million
properties ranging from pre-foreclosure, properties for auction,
for sale by owner, resale homes, and brand new homes. RealtyTrac
also contains some of the more detailed property information
available online, and you can sign up for email alerts for
properties in your area.
- Trulia is one of the best go to resources for real estate
information, including online property details, agent listings,
and all sorts of vital information for real estate sellers and
- Zillow is another must bookmark for people interested in real
estate information online--find homes for sale, compare homes in
different areas, look at historical sales date, use Zillow's
popular home valuation tool, and read news and advice from real