Kewl Site Alert: Search Engine Alternatives

Are your search results accurate?

So if you're a Google power user, you might have realised that the search results you get when you're logged in are very different from those you get when you're not logged in. Case in point: hubby searched for something recently and my blog came in the top 3 results. I told him to log out and do it again, and my blog showed up many pages later. Your Google profile, preferences, settings and search history influence the results Google presents to you, when you are logged in. The same goes for other sites since as Bing (if you are logged into MSN), etc.

After a while, it can feel like your world is limited to what you already know, or what merchants want to sell you based on what Google knows about you. And that can get frustrating when you're looking for something new and different. So where do you go? What are your options?

Thankfully, the web is a wonderfully open place where democracy prevails (well, ok that might be a bit optimistic, but my point is that you have options).

How many search engines are there, really?

A quick (logged out) Google search yields a number of different search engine options. But be warned: some of these are just variants on a single API. Long ago, I discovered a handy reference (that changes very frequently) by Bruce Clay: the Search Engine Relationship Chart shows how just a few main engines power almost all of the major search engine sites that we use on the Interwebs.

The latest version (below) shows that there are really 3 source engines for all the big names: Google, Yahoo and Bing. Ok, Bing's not a source for anything yet, and maybe it should have a link from Google...?

So what should I use?

Well of course, I still use Google for just about everything. But if I want some completely objective (?) results, here are some alternatives:
  • Blekko which searches using what it calls "slashtags", which are essentially hashtags for the web. It's a crowdsourced approach to metatagging. You can search using the ones already created or build your own. However, you can also use it for general searches. Not as comprehensive as the other engines, but definitely interesting results.
  • Dogpile is a one-stop-shop approach to simultaneously searching Google, Yahoo, AOL and Bing.
  • Wikipedia entry on Search Engines shows that there are dozens of engines for different content types: business, social content, medical, etc. which should be able to suit whatever fancy you have.
Or, of course, you can just log out of your profiles and see what comes up.

Do you use alternative search engines? What's your favourite?

(Source: @CameronC_Wilson who asked me, "What's a Blekko?")