It’s a human trait that once we find something that works and gives good results we like to stick with it. Every now and then we might rebel and check if the grass is greener elsewhere but in general if we find something we like we will stick with it. The same is true about search engines. The majority probably even have Google, Bing or another set as their browser home page, just case they were ever tempted to make a change.
Yet, just as you might turn to a GP for a general diagnosis of an illnesss and then refer to a consultant for some expert advice, so the web offers a similar level of vertical progression. With Google, Bing, et al the GPs of the search engines, if you want something more specialised, some leading thoughts on a particular subject or even just a wider range of literature to range you should try some of the more specialised search engines out there on the internet. In fact you probably already have used them without knowing.
Effectively the Whois search provided by InterNIC for domains including .com, .net is in essence a specialised search engine, offering information you are unlikely to find with a search via google, Bing or one of the more general search engines. The same is true for YouTube in relation on online videos.
If it is news you want then Newsnow is at its most popular now, with more and more news providers linked into the database covering breaking news across the world on a variety of topics.
The concept of specialised search engines however is often most linked with academic-type databases like Search Medica - aimed at medical practitioners and students.
It needn’t be academic-type research however that draws you to a specialised search. US-based StillTasty offers you a chance to search and find results for how long your favourite food or drink will stay safe to eat and where you should store it. Useful for anybody wanting to make the most of left-overs in these frugal times.
While you are thinking about the way you search, have a look at Dogpile. It’s actually been around for years and is powered by metasearch technology from Infospace who have been around since 1996 and were also behind such historic web search names as MetaCrawler and WebCrawler. Dogpile almost sounds like a wish-list for every surfer so it is surprising it is still so little known. When you search with dogpile you are actually querying the databases of the top four search engines: Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask Jeeves.
We’ve discussed before how each search engine creates results differently and Dogpile claim 88.3% of top search results were unique to one of the four major search providers, so who you search with can really influence the results you get. Our own quick test suggests there is some truth in that. Over half of the first page of results from our Dogpile search for “specialised search engines” “found exclusively on” one or other of the four main search engines.
So despite the breadth and depth of the databases driving the modern day Google, et al, there is still a big difference in results depending on who you search with. While your preferred search engine might serve you well for every day business, don’t forget the many options out there, which could prove more fruitful when your searches become a little more specific.
What other specialised search engines do you use?
Do you use a metacrawler as your preferred search choice?