Eleven Alternative Engines for Custom Searches

Google has become so dominant among search engines that many web workers use it at the exclusion of all other engines. The web is actually loaded with unusual types of search engines, and if you get a feel for what some of the offbeat ones do, you can often save a lot of time getting to the search results you really want. In this post, I’ll round up eleven offbeat search sites that I use on a frequent basis.

Kartoo. Kartoo is a very interesting way to have your search results come back as a large graphic. Hover your mouse over components in the graphic, and you’ll see Flash-based visual representations of sub-topics relevant to your search pop up. You also see images that accompany individual search results which can help you drill down to exactly what you want.


Clusty. Clusty is based on technology that was originally developed by Carnegie Mellon scientists who wanted to tackle the problem of information overload in web search results. When you do a web search at the site, you don’t just get back links, but also a pane of topics related to your search that looks like a textbook’s outline. It can frequently take you to a desired search result without you having to linearly read through a long list.

Omgili. Omgili is sort of similar to the many blog search engines available, except that it focuses its searches on web forums. It’s a good way to find discussions on various topics. For example, the first search return if you search for “best laptop” is a college discussion forum on favored laptops.

Grokker. Grokker is best known for delivering an exhaustive list of meta-topics related to any search term you type in. In can save you time if you’re sifting through a sea of results.

Freeality. Freeality is a quick way to do searches in many search engines from one page, without having to jump around to different sites. You can do everything from Google to MSN to AltaVista to Usenet searches from it. It also lets you easily search for companies, games, music, phone numbers, and more.

Ask City. Ask City is a good way to search for businesses, events, movies and more and then easily customize and annotate local maps of locations.

ChaCha. ChaCha pays human guides to assist you as you search, and many of the guides have expertise in various categories such as searches for health-related information. The guides vary in terms of being helpful, but the model is an interesting one.

MagPortal. MagPortal focuses on searching for online articles in many magazines and journals. If you know that the search result you want is a magazine article, try this site.

Dogpile. Dogpile is similar to Freeality in that it searches through many popular search engines from one spot, but the difference is that it actually searches multiple engines concurrently, not one by one.

Business.com. Business.com is a search engine exclusively dedicated to finding business information.

Truveo. Trueveo is a very nicely organized site for searching for timely videos across many categories. A set of tabs up top let you search for news videos, entertainment videos, and in other categories. Each tabbed topic also lets you drill down for most viewed videos in the category, highest rated category videos, and more.

Do you have any web search tips?

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