Written by Charles S. Knight, SEO and edited by Richard MacManus. The original version of the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines List appeared here on Read/WriteWeb on January 29, 2007. Every month, we'll be updating the list and selecting a "Search Engine of the Month". At the end of the year, we'll also select an Alternative Search Engine of the Year.
In February's edition of the Top 100 Alternative Search Engines list, there are 32 new search engines (and of course 32 dropped out to accommodate them). You'll find the updated list, in HTML and Excel formats, at the bottom of this article. A lot can happen in a month in the ever-changing world of Search, so accompanying the list is my commentary on the changes during February.
Criteria for inclusion in Top 100
Firstly, let's explain how we developed the list. When we say "The Top 100 Alternative Search Engines," we are referring to alternatives to Google. Many readers wrote in to ask what the criteria was for inclusion on the List, such as: is it the percentage of market share, or some other statistical measure? It is not. The criteria is twofold:
1) the Search Engine should exhibit superiority to Google - not as a whole, but in just one particular area. People have been talking about Wikipedia's search engine Wikiasari or even digg as potential "Google killers". That's fine, but we are not arguing that any one of the 100 list members is a "Google killer". Rather, that they should be matched against the appropriate corresponding part of Google. For example, TheFind is a shopping search engine and therefore should be compared to Google's shopping search engine, Froogle. blinkx, a video search engine, should be matched against Google's video search feature, and so forth. (See article #1 for a fuller explanation of these categories.)
2) Secondly, what ultimately gets a particular search engine into the Top 100 (as opposed to the hundreds and hundreds of "also rans") is my evaluation. It is a subjective, personal judgment from an SEO - not an independent, statistical measure. I liken it to a movie critic, who must be ready to defend his/her ratings, but the reader is by no means obligated to agree with them after having seen the movie.
Finally, there is no ranking within the Top 100, which is why it is displayed alphabetically from A-Z. However, starting this month, one of the 100 will be picked and featured as the "Search Engine of the Month."
Search Engine of the Month
It's time then to announce the first "Search Engine of the Month" for 2007. This award means that the Site will be the first of the Top 10 for 2007 - a permanent honor - and one of only 10 eligible for the #1 position at the end of the year.
GoshMe! In my opinion, GoshMe is nothing short of amazing. When you go to Google and type in, for example, "coffee," you get 197,000,000 results. When you go to one of the Metasearch engines on the List (Dogpile, mamma, gnosh, PlanetSearch, et al) you still get millions of web Pages, but they are collated from a number of different search engines. GoshMe searches across a variety of specialized search engines and databases, and for the above "coffee" example it returned about 1,200 search engine options - each one of which might have 197,000,000 results! GoshMe results are categorized and have the option to be filtered further.May I have the envelope please...and the winner is...
GoshMe is not a metasearch engine, but I like to think of it as a Meta-Meta-Search Engine - an entire magnitude of searching above what searchers are used to. If you are prompted to register for the Beta version, go right ahead - it's no big deal. Try a few searches to get the feel of the results. Then, click on the About Us link for a three page summary of how GoshMe works. Here is the brief version:
"Once the user sends us his/her query, we will check all Search Engines possibilities for him/her, and present it in the most comprehensive way, providing a list of all Search Engines and Databases appropriate to his/her query, ranked by relevance, divided by categories and sub-categories, and with a brief description about each Search Engine."
Note that CrossEngine, formerly mrSAPO, also searches across a wide variety of search engines individually - but I prefer the usability and the reach of GoshMe.
Finally, for the serious students of Search reading this article, scroll all the way down the About Us page and get a copy of the GoshMe white paper (21 .pdf pages) to really get to know what it's all about.
Goshme, our Search Engine of the Month
Tightened definition of 'search engine'
Now back to the rest of the Top 100. Without a doubt, the most persistent comment about the original Top 100 list was that too many of the choices were not bona fide search engines. And while my definition of a search engine may be slightly looser than some, it was in hindsight a bit too loose. Of the 32 sites that were dropped, many were in response to that feedback: e.g. del.icio.us, digg, digg labs swarm, Feeds 2.0, last.fm, and Rollyo. The Updated list comes much closer to meeting the goal of 100 true web search engines; but I'll watch the feedback just in case!
Also some engines, like Singing Fish (which was bought by AOL), just don't exist any more. And there are name changes - mrSAPO (www.mrsapo.com) is now known as CrossEngine - and one accidental omission, Dogpile, which has been restored (thank goodness, because there are a LOT of Dogpile fans out there!).
32 new entrants to the list
On the flip side, many of the 32 names that are new to the list presented features that are clever or fantastic, which merited their inclusion, and the Top 100 cannot be expanded. When a new search engine is added, one must be deleted - it's survival of the fittest, I'm afraid.
Here's an example: last month Ms. Dewey was in the Top 100 due to its unique User Interface, which demonstrated so well how far we have progressed from Google's white screen. This month, there is a new entrant, ASK VOX, which also has a talking female interface (screenshot below). I wanted both of them to stay, so another one had to be dropped.
Ask Vox, one of the new entrants to the list
New or growing categories: Mobile, Alerts, post-stealth mode search engines
Last month's list had no Mobile search engines, but after my second article on R/WW, The 55 Piece Mobile Search Tool Kit, it was clear that the Top 100 needed some Mobile search engines. So Ask Mobile, Yahoo! Mobile, and Windows Live Mobile were added to this version of the List. Look for greater competition within this category over the rest of the year (and ongoing!).
Another new category is "the search engine that keeps on searching." These engines should be compared to Google Alerts. For example, I have a Google Alert for "Alternative Search Engines", which daily sends any matching results to my Inbox, saving me the trouble of performing a search of my own every day. Now we have some alternatives to Google in this area - please check out Allth.at, Swamii and Searchbots.
Of the search engines that are not "live" yet - such as Dipsie, Mobot, Megaglobe, or Powerset - Hakia was one that went live recently and so was ready to be listed. Each month we will no doubt add more "stealth mode" search engines to the List, as they enter their Beta testing phase.
What's New and Impressive?
Plus check out these 'fun' search engines:
- Searchbots, mentioned above, is almost cartoonish;
- Gruuve is a "groovy" music recommendation site;
- Fybersearch is the "parent" site for some interesting variations (be sure to click around);
- I also tossed in a kids search engine, Quintura for kids, for those readers with children (there are several other similar kids search engines).
Since many search engines are still evolving, it is certainly possible for an "also ran" to move up into the List. Sproose is a good example of a search engine that is constantly adding new features.
And it's important to note that 68 of the original 100 search engines are still firmly in the top 100, either because they have continued to improve (see Zuula), or because they have yet to be challenged (amongst the "Answers" search engines, only ChaCha uses paid guides, not volunteers or "community members"). This block of 68 search engines forms a sort of "core" representation of the new breed of alternative search engines.
The Top 100 Alternative Search Engine List for February 2007
This list is also available in Excel format.
|AllTha.at||www.allth.at||The search engine that keeps on looking.|
|Ask Mobile||www.m.ask.com||Mobile search engine from Ask.com|
|ASK VOX||www.askvox.com||A second talking female user interface.|
|AnswerBus||www.answerbus.com||Ask in English, French, Spanish, German or Italian.|
|Blabline||www.blabline.com||Podcast / videocast search engine|
|boing||www.boing.mobi||Search the Mobile web|
|bookmach.com||www.bookmach.com||Searches for posts related to your keywords.|
|ChaCha||www.chacha.com||Human Guides are available to aid in your search.|
|Clusty||www.clusty.com||Clustering search engine|
|collarity||www.collarity.com||Behavioral personalized search / Collarity Compass|
|CONGOO||www.congoo.com||Searches for Premium Content|
|crossEngine||www.crossengine.com||Searches Search Engines; formerly mrSAPO|
|d e c i p h o||www.decipho.com||Behavioral personalized search / Social Meter|
|Ditto||www.ditto.com||Visual search engine|
|dumbfind||www.dumbfind.com||Featuring the Two-Box search method.|
|exalead||www.exalead.com/search||Web / Image search with a European flavor|
|factbites||www.factbites.com||Search Result snippets are complete sentences.|
|fazzle||www.fazzle.com||Search engine that emphasizes Boolean Search|
|filangy||www.filangy.com||Personalized Search Engine|
|FIND FORWARD||www.findforward.com||Multi-featured search engine; check this one out!|
|FindSounds||www.findsounds.com||Search for sound effects and musical samples.|
|FyberSearch||www.fybersearch.com||Parent site for some interesting new search engines.|
|GIGABLAST||www.gigablast.com||A multi-featured search engine.|
|girafa||www.girafa.com||Visual search engine - results are thumbnails|
|gnod||www.gnod.net||Oustanding recommendation search engines|
|GoLexa||www.golexa.com||"COMPLETE page analysis for each result."|
|goshme Beta 3.0||www.goshme.com||A search engine for search engines. Top 10 pick.|
|GoYams||www.goyams.com||Metasearch engine where you select the mix.|
|grokker||www.grokker.com||A multi-featured meta-search engine.|
|GRUUVE||www.gruuve.com||Groovy music recommendation search engine.|
|hakia||www.hakia.com||"Meaning based" search engine|
|ICEROCKET||www.icerocket.com||Blog search engine|
|KartOO||www.kartoo.com||Visually appealling clustering search engine|
|Lexxe||www.lexxe.com||Natural language processing (NLP) search engine|
|like||www.like.com||Visual shopping engine; see also riya|
|liveplasma||www.liveplasma.com||Attractive music / movies clustering / recommendation engine|
|Local.com||www.local.com||Search for local businesses, products, and services|
|lurpo||www.lurpo.com||Searches for custom Google search engines|
|MetaGlossary||www.metaglossary.com||Searches for definitions, phrases and acronyms.|
|mnemomap||www.mnemo.org||Clustering search engine|
|Mojeek||www.mojeek.com||Customize your own personal search engine.|
|Mooter||www.mooter.com||Clustering search engine|
|mrquery||www.mrquery.com||Metasearch engine / metasearch providers|
|MS. DEWEY||www.msdewey.com||Unique user interface - enough said.|
|Omgili||www.omgili.com||Social community search engine|
|onkosh||www.onkosh.com||Arabic / English Search Engine|
|Pagebull||www.pagebull.com||Visual results search engine|
|pipl||http://pipl.com||People search engine|
|PolyMeta||www.polymeta.com||Metasearch and clustering search engine|
|qksearch||www.qksearch.com||Multi-featured "3-in-1" multi-search engine|
|Quintura||www.quintura.com||Clustering search engine with a new interface|
|Quintura for kids||http://kids.quintura.com/||Search engine for kids by Quintura|
|RedZee||www.redzee.com||Search Engine with nice preview results|
|retrievr||http://labs.systemone.at/retrievr/||Visual search engine|
|riya||www.riya.com||Visual search engine; see also Like|
|scirus||http://scirus.com||Scientific information only search engine|
|searchbots||www.searchbots.net||Have a little fun, create your own searchbot.|
|SearchTheWeb2||www.searchtheweb2.com||Search The Popular Head and The Long Tail|
|sidekiq||www.sidekiq.com||Multi-category search engine. Very nice.|
|Slideshow||http://slideshow.zmpgroup.com/||Displays search results as a moving slideshow.|
|Slifter||www.slifter.com||A mobile shopping search engine.|
|soople||www.soople.com||A simplified version of Google's search options.|
|Speegle||www.speegle.com||The speeglebot talks to you.|
|Sphere||www.sphere.com||A blog search engine.|
|Sproose||www.sproose.com||Social search engine|
|S R C H R||www.srchr.com||Metasearch engine|
|SurfWax||www.surfwax.com||Meaning-based search engine|
|Swamii||www.swamii.com||Search engine that keeps on searching for you.|
|Swoogle||http://swoogle.umbc.edu||Semantic Web search engine|
|thefind.com||www.thefind.com||Shopping search engine|
|Trexy||www.trexy.com||Follow "trails" and "trailblazers" with Trexy.|
|TWERQ||www.twerq.com||Multi-category search engine with tabbed results.|
|UJIKO||www.ujiko.com||A fun interface where you can vote on the results.|
|url.com||www.url.com||"Search with many" community metasearch engine.|
|VMGO.com||www.vmgo.com||Vote on the search results with emoticons.|
|WASALive||www.wasalive.com||A new member of the list.|
|Web 2.0||www.web20searchengine.com||Web 2.0 search engines|
|WEBBRAIN||www.webbrain.com||Clustering "see the web" search engine.|
|whonu?||www.whonu.com||Deluxe metasearch engine.|
|WIKIO||www.wikio.com||"Live information from 33981 media and blogs"|
|Windows Live Mobile||www.wls.live.com||Windows Live Mobile search engine|
|WiseNut||www.wisenut.com||Clustering search engine|
|Yahoo! Mobile||http://m.yahoo.com||Yahoo! Mobile search engine|
|Yahoo! MINDSET||www.mindset.research.yahoo.com||Intention-driven search; commercial versus research|
|yoono||www.yoono.com||People-rated community web search|
|yoople||www.yoople.net||Yoople! = Yahoo! + Google + People|
|yubnub||www.yubnub.org||Use command lines to search the web.|
|ZABASEARCH||www.zabasearch.com||People and Public Information Search Engine.|
|Zippy||www.zippy.co.uk||Search engine for webmasters|
|ZUULA||www.zuula.com||Multi-category, multi-search engine, with good tabs.|