AltSearchEngines has a post up on an interesting search engine concept currently in beta: Springo. The site’s tagline is “shortcutting the Web,” and it specializes in providing categorized results as well as thumbnails of sites related to your search terms, where the thumbnails can keep you from having to click through to various sites until you arrive at what you’re looking for. I wouldn’t use Springo for common search tasks I do every day, such as sifting through news headlines and announcements, but as a way to preview relevant sites in various site categories, it is useful.
A good way to get the feel of Springo is to go to the home page and enter the keyword “jobs” in the search field, then press “Go.” If you do this, on the left side of your search results page, you’ll get a “Narrow” categorized list of job-related site categories, with an “Expand” tab that will give you more if you want. In the “Narrow” list you get categories such as “Work from Home,” “Professionals and Freelancers,” and “Job Search Engines,” as seen to the right.
I clicked on the category “Professionals and Freelancers,” and got a collection of thumbnail views of sites in the category, as seen below. (There are more of these thumbnails available to scan.) Elance and RentACoder both show up as thumbnails, and both sites you should be familiar with, as we’ve written about them many times before. The expanded list contains many other similar sites that we’ve written about for freelancers, such as oDesk.
Springo looks equally useful for other category-oriented types of site discovery searches. For example, do a search on “Browsers” and you’ll get back four neat thumbnails for IE (s msft), Firefox, Safari (s aapl) and Google Chrome (s goog). You’ll also get categorized collections of sites specializing in toolbars and add-ons, and more.
I wouldn’t use Springo for granular searches on the day’s news, or for definitions and targeted types of research. However, as a site discovery tool within categories you specify with keywords, it does a good job.
What niche search engines do you use?