In the world of online search engines, most people stop with the Big Three. Google, Bing and Yahoo! Search are indisputably the most widely used. For those who like to run off the beaten path or march to the beat of their own search engine, here are ten alternatives to consider the next time you need to find information online.
- AltaVista – In operation since 1995, AltaVista is one of the web’s search trailblazers, and is still in operation today. For those of us who were around in the wild days of the internet’s infancy, the fact that the familiar name is still an existing entity might come as a surprise. Though they retained the name and url, AltaVista search was acquired by Yahoo! in 2003.
- WebCrawler – If searching the Big Three individually just won’t do, spin all of them into one search with WebCrawler. With a single-query system that uses metasearch technology to trawl most of the major-player engines in one go, you’ll also find multimedia results and local news.
- DuckDuckGo – DuckDuckGo is a pared-down approach to web searching, offering prompts for disambiguation and a zero-click feature that plops information in an easy-to-spot red box above the link results and a no-tracking policy for the privacy-minded user.
- Ask – Once known as AskJeeves, Ask.com is another longtime player in the online world. A unique approach to results grouping and simple presentation make Ask a standout.
- MetaCrawler – Taking its name from the metasearch technology that allows a single-query search of several indexed engines, MetaCrawler’s popularity peaked in the late 90′s, but the site is still in use and relatively popular today.
- Mahalo – Though the human-powered format of Mahalo returns fewer results than a larger engine, the fact that they’re hand selected means that the results you are presented with are much more likely to be high-quality, relevant ones.
- Dogpile – Once upon a not-so-distant time, the go-to search engine for quick results was Dogpile. Unceremoniously unseated by Google, the new Dogpile is staging a comeback with a clean interface, respectable index and crosslinking.
- Lycos – Acting as both search engine and web portal, the 1994 research project that became Lycos was one of the world’s first internet ventures to turn a profit. Now owned by Hyderabad’s Ybrant Digital, Lycos is still widely used.
- Info – Another single-query platform that returns results from several engines, Info boasts an overlap rate of only 5% in the top 20 searches and extensive vendor information.
- Search – With a proprietary algorithm that sorts the results of several platforms into one cohesive list, Search is a powerful engine that separates sponsored links from the returned relevant results and allows customization of metasearch options.
In addition to these general search engines, there are dozens of specialized offerings with an emphasis on specific media, professional and industrial information and blogosphere results. Games and entertainment also have their own niche in the market.