Google and Bing can do quite a bit for the average Internet user, but they don’t always give the results you want. A number of alternative search engines are popping up that search very different data points than the standard search giants.
There are image search engines, for example, that allow you to sketch something in a Microsoft Paint-inspired window and search for more images that way. There are search engines that recommend films and television shows based on where you live and what your favorite movies are. Metasearch engines do a little bit of everything by drawing from a whole slew of other search engines to find results for you. Here’s what you need to know about this alternative to Google and Bing:
An Early Example
The first publicly-available metasearch engine was Mamma.com. The site touts itself as the “mother of all search engines.” Do a quick search for “Frankenstein” and you get a page of results from Google, Wikipedia, IMDB and a number of other major sources as well as a list of suggestions for further searches, including “gothic novels” and a number of Frankenstein film titles, including “Young Frankenstein.” Rather than the precise, though sometimes cluttered results that you find on Google, Mamma gives you an instant overview of whatever it is you might be curious about.
This gets us to the bottom of what metasearch engines are all about — all the info you need, all at once. Internet expert, Internet Service Providers reports that Google and Bing are packed with unique features that get precise results, but they don’t draw from as broad a pool of resources and cannot always provide as comprehensive an overview on a subject as a metasearch engine.
When you have a search engine that is drawing from a dozen sources, it can become overwhelming very quickly if the results aren’t refined to an extent. It is easy to spend all day scrolling and browsing through hundreds of results in order to find what you’re after. Metasearch engine Dogpile.com delivers results from Google, Yahoo, and a number of other resources, and sorts them by most prominent sources first — expect to see Amazon, Answers, and Merriam-Webster popping up on the first page quite frequently.
The Future of Metasearch
Metasearch offers tremendous power in its ability to draw from a wide range of sources, but it lacks the same personal approach found in clustered search engines and taste graphing. Ultimately we probably will see search engines combine the two approaches, giving you results that draw from the entire Web, while only showing you the results that you want.
Google is a powerful search engine, but ultimately, it’s really just one resource, and one of many that metasearch engines draw upon. The future may well belong to alternative search engines, but then again engines like Google and Bing may take a page from these alternatives and pursue more aggressive personalization. The future belongs to the search engines that innovate the most.