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.
Best Search Engines 2020
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 accurate results.
- 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.
- ChaCha – 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 traditional searches.
- 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.
- ixquick – 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.
- Local.com – 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 – 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 – 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.
- Swoogle – 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 homepage.
- 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 – 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.
- blinkx – 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 conversation starter.
- ZapMeta – 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 – 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 these sources.
- Collarity – 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 search results.
- 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 search.
- 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.
- GoshMe – 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 – 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 – 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.
- CONGOO – 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 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 scheme.
- 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 – 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.
- Mnemomap – 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.
- URL.com – 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 – WebBrain is an attempt to make web searches and online information more like a human brain. This non-linear interactive search engine and the 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.
- The 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. A totally unique and useful tool for Internet research.
- INFOMine – 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.
- Mental 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 results.
- 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 – 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 buyers.
- Zillow – 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 estate experts.
The Internet: How Search Works