This article provides an overview of search engines and a list of the best search engines. An internet search engine is a searchable online database of internet resources, websites, and information. A typical web search engine has several primary components:
- Search engine software
- Spider and index software
- An index (the database)
- A relevancy algorithm (rules for evaluating and ranking content)
Search engines are also known as web search engines, internet search engines, search websites, search directories, etc.
Search Engine Use
Each day, search engines process billions of queries from millions of people worldwide. People use their computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices to submit keyword queries to their preferred search tools. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple Siri submit queries based on user voice commands.
The results in response to keyword queries depend on the device used. In most cases, such as computers and mobile devices, the results are provided on a page in a list format, with the most closely matched content listed first.
Most lookup tools provide a hyperlink to the website and a brief description or blurb of text to describe the result. Results can be viewed in different categories: web pages, images, videos, news, podcasts, and other files.
In some cases, as with Google’s results, the answer is provided on the results page itself, saving the user the extra step of clicking through to the website. When questions are submitted to AI devices, the response comes back in a spoken format. Unlike web directories, which human editors maintain, search engines operate using an algorithm or are a mixture of algorithmic and human input.
List of the Best Search Engines
The following is a list of the best search engines and directories on the internet:
The number one search engine, Google, dominates the search market, with around 90% of the world’s search engine traffic. Google’s search utility and ease of use have made it one of the world’s best-known search engines and brands almost entirely through word of mouth from satisfied users. See Google Search Commands to learn how to find the information you need.
Bing is a search engine from Microsoft that finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions. Bing has emerged as a legitimate contender for search engine traffic.
Yahoo! Inc. is a global online network of integrated services with over 500 million users worldwide. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with a presence in markets and regions around the globe.
Ask.com was a leading search engine on the Web. Millions of people turned to Ask.com to get what they wanted online daily. Founded as Ask Jeeves in 1996 and renamed Ask.com in February 2005, Ask.com was recognized for innovation in search technology and interface design.
AOL’s search engine delivers comprehensive web results enhanced by Google™ and quick, easy access to relevant videos, pictures, local maps, news, stock quotes, and more.
Baidu is a powerful Chinese-owned search engine headquartered in Beijing, China.
DuckDuckGo.com positions itself as “the search engine that doesn’t track you.” Also, DuckDuckGo doesn’t store your personal information. In addition, they don’t follow you around the web with targeted ads.
We’ll provide more detailed information on the WolframAlpha service later. On the day of our testing, the engine appeared to be down. Or, at least, it was running extremely slow. Go to wolframalpha.com to test it out.
Other Search Engines
Dogpile – Dogpile searches multiple search engines at once.
IX Quick – Ixquick is a metasearch engine: when you search Ixquick, you search many popular engines simultaneously. IXquick bills itself as the world’s most private search engine.
Lycos – Lycos, established in 1995, is one of the world’s oldest and most widely known Internet brands, evolving from one of the original search engines on the web into a comprehensive network of sites that foster online communities. The Lycos Network provides web search and navigation, homepage building and web hosting services, web-based e-mail, online games, and cutting-edge video platforms. Lycos’s products and services include tools for blogging, web publishing and hosting, video sharing, social networking, games, e-mail, and search. InfoSpace Holdings, LLC owns Lycos.
Reference.Com – Reference.com is a multi-source encyclopedia search service produced by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC, a leading online provider of language reference products and services.
Search Com – Search.com is a metasearch engine that searches Google, Ask.com, LookSmart, and other leading search engines for the best results. CBS Interactive, Inc. currently owns the service.
WebCrawler – WebCrawler® brings users search results from Google, Yahoo!, Windows Live, Ask, and other popular search engines. WebCrawler provides multimedia results, including images, audio, video, news, and local information. WebCrawler is a registered trademark of InfoSpace, Inc.
List of Retired Search Engines
Following is a list of search engines, web directories, and metacrawlers that were once popular but are now shut down. In some cases, another, more popular company acquired the engine or the technology behind the scenes.
- All The Web – AlltheWeb (owned by Yahoo!) combines indices with powerful search features to help users search the web. AlltheWeb’s index included billions of web pages and tens of millions of PDF and MS Word® files.
- AltaVista – AltaVista was a web search engine owned by Yahoo! AltaVista used to be one of the most popular search engines. Still, its popularity declined with the rise of Google’s search engine.
- GenieKnows – GenieKnows.com narrowed the field of organic search results by developing niche-specific portals tailored for distinct searching communities and also empowers a broad distribution network for advertisers by conveying meaningful, revenue-generating search results.
- Mamma – Mamma.com provides relevant results from the best search engines on the Internet.
- Metacrawler – Now owned by DogPile, used innovative metasearch technology to search the Internet’s top search engines, including Google, Yahoo! Search, MSN Search, Ask Jeeves, About, MIVA, LookSmart, and more. MetaCrawler searched results from the combined pool of the world’s leading search engines instead of results from only one single search index.
- Northern Light – Northern Light no longer provides search services. They do provide licensed news content to businesses on a confidential basis.
A Private Investigator’s Best Friend
Search engines are useful to private investigators because they provide a quick and easy way to retrieve information on various topics. Sometimes, missing person search cases can be resolved using nothing more than a search engine and a telephone.
Remember to use a variety of search engines, as each company indexes content in a slightly different way and has different rules for ranking and sorting their results.
If you have any questions about the list of the best search engines, please post a comment below. Also, check out my list of Open Source Intelligence Tools, which includes several helpful search tools.
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