Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A gaggle of search engines

I've been checking out search engines beyond the Google that is my usual starting point. Here are some views of search engines using one I kind of like, (Move the little blue slider to see the other sites.)

Some quick assessments after comparing results on a search for "accordance bibleworks logos."
  • Yahoo had by far the most initial results, followed by LiveSearch, then Google. All the hits on the initial page of returns were valid.
  • Searchme and Viewzi don't return number of results, but they seem to scroll on to as many results as you want. (Viewzi is actually using Yahoo results.) What these both emphasize, and as you can see in the embedded window, is a quick view of each page. It's harder to scan through scads of results, but it's easier to find the results you want. Viewzi is particularly interesting because of the additional views it can offer. (Check out the top ribbon. Try out the timeline one!) You can also choose a simple text view which does include a thumbnail, and also popularity stats pulling in results from Yahoo and Google.
  • Searchme has the neat 'stacks' where you just drag a web view onto a stack that you want to save. The stack can be shared with others via email, link, or embedded as I am doing on this post.
  • The only thing going for Gigablast is its "freshness dating" options, but it does provide some clustering of data. 'Clustering' is a good idea, because it helps you narrow down your searches. Ask and Clusty are most intentional in this regard (and appear to use the same data?), but Clusty does a better job. Searchme offers suggestions for groups that is helpful as well.
  • UPDATE: One of the comments to this post asked about I added it to the collection above, but I remain unimpressed. (I had checked it early on when it was still having problems...) Looks nice, like the categories it offers, but it seems to pull lots of pages from a single site and also is susceptible to highly ranking sites which put a lot of keywords just to fish for hits.
  • For some other search engines, check this PDF article from the latest CCMag.
BOTTOM LINE: Google will remain my first line, but I really like Searchme and Viewzi and will use them at times. I may use Clusty occasionally to get suggestions on narrowing searches. (In fact, I have already added them to my Firefox search box.)

BTW: A different approach to searching the web that focuses more on 'mashing up' results is the new alpha Firefox plugin, Ubiquity. Very cool but way too much typing in this early version of the interface... Check out the video:

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.
More articles here.

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