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How Do You Search? What Search Engines Do You Use?

June 7, 2010

Does anyone even use a library anymore to do research?  Not finding what you are looking for?  Want to dig a little deeper? Not finding what you are looking for?  Are you aware of all the other search engine options at your disposal?  Take a look at Wikipedia or the Search Engine List or the long standing website called Beaucoup.com ( it  means many in French).    Have you used or experimented with one of the 10 or so new semantic search engines?  They search differntly. 

In August 2009, I created a list of search engines and have provided it as an evergreen resource farther below so that you will be able to search deeper, intead of just “who” is most popular.  I encourage you to play with a few to see which ones you like/dislike in generating the types of results you need.

The point is that you have so many more choices!   

Do you only use Google exclusively? If so, for what? Everything under the sun? (Update, Summer 2011): Now you can search with just your voice as of June 2011, Google released Voice Search) What is your take on this newest way to search for the informaiton you need?Please see my full list below, if you want to experiment with other search options.

(Update Fall 2011): Since so many people are unemployed with the down turn of the US economy. I thought I would post Job Search Engine related websites as well. This of course warrents full post on its own, I imagine

List of Business Directories ( thanks to Mashable.com), http://bit.ly/11nUVm

 To extend your search there are  semantic search engines.   Here is an article on Top 5 Semantic Search Engines  

Explanation of semantic search enging. A semantics search engine attempts to make sense of search results based on context. It automatically identifies the concepts structuring the texts. For instance, if you search for “election” a semantic search engine might retrieve documents containing the words “vote”, “campaigning” and “ballot”, even if the word “election” is not found in the source document. An important part of this process is disambiguation, both of the queries and of the content on the web. What this means is that the search engine — through natural language processing — will know whether you are looking for a car or a big cat when you search for “jaguar”.

When to use semantic search engines

Semantic search has the power to enhance traditional web search, but it will not replace it. A large portion of queries are navigational and semantic search is not a replacement for these. Research queries, on the other hand, will benefit from semantic search.

Semantic search portals

Enterprise semantic search engines

AllPlus- www.allplus.com 

Hakia- Hakia is a general purpose semantic search engine, as opposed to e.g. Powerset and Cognition (below), that search structured corpora (text) like Wikipedia.  Hakia search results are organized in tabs: Web results, credible sites, images and news. Credible sites refer to results from sites that have been vetted by librarians and other information professionals invites by Hakia to identify credible web sites. For some queries (typically popular queries and queries where there is little ambiguity), Hakia produces resumes. These are portals to all kinds of information on the subject. Every resume has an index of links to the information presented on the page for quick reference.  The elements of these resumes will vary according to the nature of the query (e.g. biography, bibliography, timeline etc. for persons, government, economy, culture etc. for countries). Resumes are excellent for researching a topic and are my favorite Hakia feature. Often, Hakia will propose related queries, which is also great for research. For instance, if I search for Barack Obama, Hakia suggest I might be interested in information about Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Sarah Palin, John McCain, John Sununu and Joseph R. Biden Jr. as well. For some queries Hakia presents really poor results, but it is still in beta and is improving rapidly. Take a look at our interview with the people behind Hakia.

SenseBot SenseBot is a web search engine that summarizes search results into one concise digest on the topic of your query. The search engine attempts to understand what the result pages are about. For this purpose it uses text mining to analyze Web pages and identify their key semantic concepts. This way SenseBot helps you get a better grasp of what the relevant term is about. In this way you do not have to go through a large number of web pages and comb through results with incomprehensible expert definitions (or any definitions at all). The summary serves as a digest on the topic of your query, blending together the most significant and relevant aspects of the search results. It contains a tag cloud, relating your query to other relevant concepts and a list of sentences believed to define or describe your query. Each sentence is followed by a link to the source. Not all of the summaries are informative or even intelligible, but that is likely to improve; Like Hakia, SenseBot is in beta. This is bleeding edge technology — it’s evolving as we speak. Read a review of SenseBot.

Powerset- Powerseet is at present not a regular web search engine. It works best on smaller, relatively structured corpora.  The technology offers a comprehensive view of such information. You can test it on Wikipedia and Powerset definitely excels at this, structuring the information and presenting it in a way that, for research purposes, is a great improvement on Wikipedia’s own search engine. You can enter keywords, phrases, or simple questions in the search box. On the search results page, Powerset often answers questions directly. My favorite feature is the way it aggregates information from across multiple articles. “Factz” is a box that often appears in the search results and is a set of suggestions for reference queries based on the information available. For instance, when I search for Obama, Powerset offers links to information on what Obama has said about Robert Gates, Middle East, Pakistan, trade and more. Clicking one of these links brings up a box in the search results page with the actual words said by Obama and links to the articles in which the quotes appeared.

DeepDyve- DeepDyve DeepDyve is a powerful, professional research tool available for free for the general public. It is a research engine that lets you access expert content from the “Deep Web”, the part of the Internet that is not indexed by traditional search engines (e.g. databases, journals etc.).

Researchers, students, technical professionals, business users, and other information consumers can search Wikipedia or deep web resources within these categories: Life Sciences and Medical, Physical Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, Business and Finance, Patents, Legal, Clean Technology and Energy, IT and Engineering. Research sites’ search engines often rely on Boolean languages or hard-coded taxonomies, which constitutes a threshold and makes them hard to use (or even inaccessible) to anyone but insiders. DeepDyve is an advanced yet easy interface to these valuable sources of information. Your query can consist of anything from a single word to 25 000 characters. The search results are presented in a complex manner with many advanced options for refining, sorting or saving your search. Despite the complexity, the search results are relatively easy to navigate.

Cognition-Cognition has a search business based on a semantic map, built over the past 24 years, which the company claims is the most comprehensive and complete map of the English language available today. It is used in support of business analytics, machine translation, document search, context search, and much more.

You can use Cognition’s technology to search one of four bodies of information:

Public.Resource.org (currently 1,858 volumes consisting of 675,704 files of federal case law in XHTML format). The release comprises US Supreme Court Decisions and Court of Appeals decisions from 1950 on.

MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) Abstracts: abstracts for life sciences and biomedical information from an international literature database. It covers the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and health care, as well as fields with no direct medical connection, such as molecular evolution (currently 18,005,903 files).

The English version of Wikipedia. The complete New English Translation including text and translator notes of the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, John and Mark.  We tested Cognition on Wikipedia. On this huge volume of text, Cognition is especially useful for sorting out meaning in complex queries:

Phrases like “historical houses of worship & historical temples” Meaning: “worker on strike” vs. “strike oil in California”  Classes like “Indian tribes of Latin America” or “diseases of North American trees”

The technology that goes into solving queries like this is impressive and Cognition gives you valuable control over the assigning of meaning and classes in a user friendly way. The presentation of the search results is less than perfect, though, and I wish the cognition team would learn from Hakia or Powerset in this regard.

Cluuz.com
Claim: doesn’t have one, but its claim could be “It’s about the relationships, stupid”
Notes: Cluuz uses the search results of Yahoo Search Web Service, Microsoft Live Search, Alexa Web Search and the Technorati Search API to provide the results, with their visual representation beings its actual selling point – choose from charts, clusters, flash or lists. Target Language: none specified  added: July 7, 2008

Cuil.com
Claim: “For knowledge, ask Cuil.”
Notes: Started out as the big Google attacker: was launched by former Google employees and is also toting the allegedly biggest index, “three times as many (pages) as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft”; semantically enhanced: search term recommender, related categories, related searched, and really really fast on day 2. The question remains: Wow, How Did Cuil Get So Much Publicity on Day 1?!
Target Language: On day 2, results for German searches were rather lousy added: July 30, 2008

Evri.com
Claim: Search less, understand more
Notes: has the instruction “Find a Person, Product or Thing” in its search field; entering “Cheese” (probably too banal) shows recommendations like “Chuck E. Cheese’s” (restaurant), “I want someone to eat Cheese with me” (film) and “Bubbles and Cheesecake” (band). You cannot search for things they haven’t in their list of persons products or things, so I cannot search for cheese. Choosing one of the suggested searches instead: Joe Biden. The graph Joe Biden shows links to Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, John McCain, New Hampshire and Katie Couric. There is something that looks like it’s to be used for facted seearch and one of the option ins “Joe Biden > cancelling”. This triggers “Joe Biden > cancelling > Mother-in-law”, “Joe Biden > cancelling > two days”, and “Joe Biden > cancelling > appearance” and may more confusing things. I just cannot figure out what to do with Evri?  Target Language: probably best with English added: Oct 6, 2008

Exalead.com
Claim: none
Notes: has advanced, context-sensitive options to refine a search, e.g. by selecting related terms, type of web site , content, language or file format; advances search options include search with similar terms or for phonetic representation; one can also download their exalead desktop to index and search one’s PC – which I didn’t try
Target Language: English, German added: July 7, 2008

Factbites.com
Claim: “where results make sense”
Notes: promises to “read” the content of sites it searchs (rather than search for keywords) and seek out the ones that feature “encyclopedia-style fact-based descriptions” (but doesn’t tell how it does what it does); similarly, results pages present full statements as result preview; makes a confusing distinction between “results from the primary (high quality) database” and others (low-quality results?) though. Target Language: seems to work in English only  added: July 7, 2008

Fazzle.com
Claim: “A Faszinating Feature Rich Search Fest”
Notes: “feature rich” in Fazzle’s context means ‘complex interface’; search operators (AND, OR, Title, etc) can be switched on/off using radio buttons; a number of tabs reading ‘null’ suggest that the interface can be personalized; the enhanced interface is even more difficult to understand
Target Language: not specified  added: July 7, 2008

Grokker
Claim: “One search. Many sources. Broad discovery. Dynamic research”
Notes: searches Yahoo! and Wikipedia; displays search results in either outline view or map view; in the outline view, both clusters and a results list are displayed; allows filtering of results by detail, date, source and domain as well as keyword search within clusters; the map view presents clusters as circles of different sizes; both maps and outlines can be exported
Target Language: English (I think)  added: July 7, 2008

hakia.com
Claim: “A new Semantic Search engine dedicated to quality”
Notes: hakia and I got off on the wrong foot when it suggested Matilda as #1 answer for my question ‘who is the queen of England?’. Turns out this was just a misunderstanding: They did present Queen Elizabeth II as their top quality, i.e. #1 search result – but I mistook their symbol for top quality results as a symbol sponsored content.
Target language: not specified, results seem better in English  added: July 7, 2008

Hoonoh.com
Claim: Tells You Who You Know Who Knows
Notes: a social seach engine that mines data from the social web (e.g. del.icio.us) and the Semantic Web (e.g. revyu.com), not sure exactly, but it seems as if Tom Heath (creator of revyu.com, member of the Linked Data initiative) is working on it; not sure either how the login works (no password required, 11-Sep-2008), but it is supposedly allowing you to filter people by proximity (Friends, Friends of Friends, etc.) and to weight results by experience, expertise and affinity scores
Target Language: none specified
added: July 7, 2008

Kartoo.com
Claim: none
Notes: a meta search engine that displays search results both as a map and as topic folders; the map is created within seconds, yet the flash-based design is a matter of taste and has zero-accessibility written all over it
Target Language: none specified
added: July 7, 2008

Lexxe
Claim: “powered by advanced natural language processing technology”
Notes: presents both clusters and s list of search results, draws strongly on wikipeda (like Powerset), but includes other sources as well, currently (July 2008) in alpha (i.e. not as mature as beta?)
Target Language: English
added: July 7, 2008

Me.Dium Social Search
Claim: “Search what the crowds are surfing”
Notes: say that it “enables users to find relevant information based on the current surfing activity of other people”; the crowds behind Me.dium are the alleged 2 million people who have downloaded the Me.dium Toolbar (July 2008; one can only guess how may of these are really using it); like Hakia and Cluuz, they are using the Yahoo! Search Boss service to accelarate and improve their service
Target Language: doesn’t seem to be relevant
added: July 7, 2008

Metaglossary.com
Claim: “Find meaning, not just links”
Notes: Promises to be now (July 08) “defining over 2,000,000 terms, phrases and acronyms!”; search results page presents key words, related terms, and a preview of definitions; in my test searches, Metaglossary offered consistently more definitions than the define: search operator in Google Target Language: English added: July 7, 2008

mnemo.org (Mnemomap)
Claim: none / maybe “a search engine that tries to replace the search with fun”
Notes: generates a map from the search term that shows synonms, neighbours, tags and translations (but without context, these can be confusing – ‘queen’ was translated into German as ‘Dame’ and ‘Schwuchtel’, i.e. dame and a derogatory term for homosexual males); allows users to edit (and potentially improve) search results by ‘deleting’ unwanted results from the list  Target Language: English (map and search results), German (map only)  added: July 7, 2008

Mooter.com
Claim: “The power of relevance”
Notes: breaks the process of making search relevant down into two steps: first, it presents you with a graph for your search term and asks you to choose one (!) node; then you move on to the search results; the former nodes are now visible as clusters to the left (makes you wonder why they chose to present the graph as interstitial instead of jumping to the clusters plus results list right away – because somebody built a visualization tool and was determined to use it somewhere in Mooter?)  Target Language: not specified, seems to work better with English  added: July 7, 2008

OntoSelect
Claim: “Ontology Search, Selection and Browsing”
Notes: not a semantic search engine as such, but a search tool for the semantic web community, helping them find the right ontology, multilingual labels or top labels for their projects  Target Language: Multilingual added: July 7, 2008

Powerset.com
Claim: “A better way to search and discover information in Wikipedia articles.”
Notes: only searches Wikipedia, shows fact summaries on top of search results pages, promises to find immediate answers to (simple) questions; hype factor is high, in particular after being purchased by Microsoft.
Target Language: English added: July 7, 2008

Pluribo.com
Claim: “Instant summaries of Amazon user reviews.”
Notes: A rather specialized search tool: It claims to be compiling a super-summary of Amazon user reviews, so that you’d only have to read one review instead of having to dig through several dozens of them; hyped after it was discussed on Slashdot; downside: I couldn’t test it as it only works with Amazon electronics, but I couldn’t find one product within Amazon electronics that it could process (July 2008)
Target Language: English (on Amazon.com) added: July 20, 2008

Quintura.com
Claim: “See & Find”
Notes: also calls itself a “visual find engine”; I’d recommend it to everyone who wants to create a tag cloud around a certain topic, e.g. for a presentation or blog entry, as it it creates logo enhanced tag clouds for each search term; not sure how good it is as a search engine Target Language: not specified added: July 7, 2008

Riya.com
Claim: “Visual search”
Notes: another visual search engine; the search index seems to be relatively small and it is not transparent where the searched files and documents are hosted (on the internet in general or actually on Riya?); allows users to search tags AND to add tags to selected items on the results page
Target Language: English (cannot handle German Umlaut) added: July 7, 2008

Searchthetail.com
Claim:Search  Relate  Refine  Discover
Notes: Probably of appeal mainly to Search Engine Optimizers; run by Canadian company useAPI! Search: and “powered by Google” (whatever that means), it allows you to find related search terms that people have used. E.g. “Cupcakes” produces 199 related key words with English langauge settings (e.g. wedding cupcake, birthday cupcakes, cupcakes recipe, cupcakes recipes, etc), but only 10 (including “cupcakes resepti”) with Finnish language settings. Probably also good as a keyword localization tool.  Target Languages: British and American English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedisch, Norwegian (as judged by the flags on their website), plus Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese (as judged by the tabs on the bottom) added: Oct 6, 2008

semager.de
Claim: “semantisch suchen” (”searching semantically”)
Notes: The related terms search seems useful, and so does the service “Semantic Business” which includes (but is not limited to) a Keyword API, Brands API, TagCloud API and TextCloud API. The feature “Typos/Tippfehler” might be useful for the definition of hidden labels in a thesaurus. Target Language: German, English; currently (July 2008) working on Spanish Semantics added: July 7, 2008

Swoogle
Claim: “Semantic Web Search”
Notes: a search engine for the semantic community rather than a semantic search engine; searches (for) semantic web ontologies, documents and terms; search results are also available in RDF  Target Language: not specified

Trexy.com
Claim: “Blaze search trails”
Notes: a social search engine with modest capabilities – allows you to follow other people’s search trails, presumably by registering the links that people clicked in their search results; the search results are, however, poorly displayed: my search for “queen” produced five links including “coming soon” and “untitled” and not even a preview of the URL; also only 12 people had searched for “Queen” before – I guess only few search terms reach threshold value on Trexy  Target Language: dominated by English searches  added: July 7, 2008

Ujiko.com
Claim: none – I’d suggest “Beam me away, Uji””
Notes: searches 6 Million web pages, but its selling point is the sci-fi interface; search results are displayed in a circular interface, with what could be keywords or tags appearing in the middle; clicking on any of these terms refines the search; flash overload  Target Language: not specifed (certainly German, French and English)  added: July 7, 2008

virel.de
Claim: Make yourself visible
Notes: A microformats search engine, created by a small German company; it trakcs microformats on the web, but also accepts submissions of microformats providers; allows to search for contacts (hcard) and events (hcalendar)  Target Language: not specifed/relevant; has German and English interface  added: July 7, 2008

The Big ones: Glimpses of the Semantic Web
I don’t really dare to give Yahoo and Google, as they have their own place within this list, but let’s at least mention their current efforts:

Yahoo (actually a directory where all info is hand entered, but because of it long-standing history and sheer depth most think if it as a search engine) In March 2008, Yahoo announced plans to gradually support a number of microformats, including hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom, and XFN, to support vocabulary components from Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GeoRSS, MediaRSS and to support RDFa and eRDF markup to embed these into existing HTML pages. They also announced their support for the OpenSearch specification. Furthermore, the Yahoo! Search Boss webservice might help in particular niche search engines to improve their services – ReadWriteWeb as an interesting article about it.  added: July 7, 2008

Google
In terms of relationship finding, Google sets is rather interesting: Enter apple and pear, and it will suggest cherry, sweet and chocolate. Enter apple and PC, and it will suggest mac, windows and microsoft.
added: July 7, 2008

List of International Search Engines

Accoona
Alleba Alleba: Philippines search engine and highly organized directory of Filipino websites.
Ansearch Ansearch: Australia/NZ/UK/US. Ansearch Ltd is involved in various online media activities, including the Ansearch.com.au search engine and the Soush online media network
Araby Araby: Middle East – Arabic language search engine owned by the Maktoob Group, which owns the world’s largest online Arab community; Maktoob.com. (Arabic only)
Baidu Baidu: China – The Google of China, Baidu is doing what no other Internet company has been able to do: clobbering Google and Yahoo in its home market.
Daum Daum: Korea – Daum is a popular web portal in South Korea which offers many Internet services including search, a popular free web-based e-mail, messaging service, forums, shopping and news.
Guruji Guruji.com: India – an Indian Internet search engine that is focused on providing better search results to Indian consumers, by leveraging proprietary algorithms and data in the Indian context.
Goo goo: Japan – an Internet search engine and web portal based in Japan, which crawls and indexes primarily Japanese language websites. goo is operated by the Japanese telecomm giant NTT.
Miner Miner.hu: Hungary – a vertical search engine for searching blogs, videos and other Hungarian content on the internet. Miner.hu indexes about 129.000 blogs.
Najdi.siNajdi.si Najdi.si: Slovenia – a Slovenian search engine and web portal created by Interseek. It’s the most visited website in Slovenia. It uses a technology created by Interseek written entirely in Java
Naver Naver: Korea – The undisputed number 1 search engine in Korea with over 16 million visitors and 1 billion page views per day.
Onet Onet: Poland – Polish language web portal and search.
Onkosh Onkosh: Middle East – Arabic language search.
Rambler Rambler: Russia -offers proprietary web search (Rambler Search), e-mail, rating and directory, media, ecommerce and other services to the Russian-speaking websurfer.
Rediff Rediff: India – India’s leading internet portal for news, mail, messenger, entertainment, business, mobile, ecommerce, shopping, auctions, search, sports and more.
Sapo SAPO: Portugal – Portuguese language search based in Portugal and focused on Portugal.
Search.CH Search.ch: Switzerland – a search engine and web portal for Switzerland. Founded in 1995 as a regional search engine, later many other services were added: phonebook, SMS service. Acquired by the Swiss Post.
Sesam Sesam: Norway, Sweden – Based in Norway and focused on Norway and Sweden.
Walla (in Hebrew) Walla!: Israel – Search the web in Hebrew with an Israel focus.
Yandex Yandex: Russia – Yandex (Russian: Я́ндекс) is a Russian search engine
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  1. June 14, 2010 at 1:46 am

    thank you! very informative.

    Freelance Translation Studio
    Translation and Localization into CIS languages
    http://www.ft-studio.com
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  1. July 1, 2010 at 6:09 am
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