Thing 14: Search Engines – going beyond Google

Search engines market share

Market share of Search Engines Feb 12 – Jan 13. Source: StatOwl

When you search for things the chances are you use google (80 % of us do) but there are other search engines.  .Your  laptop possibly defaults to searching via Bing! Should you try another search engine?

This week  take a look at some other search engines, and blog on which ones you prefer, and what you would use in future

There are lots of different search engines out there, but the main rivals to Google are



Ask (was Ask Jeeves)

Try running the same search across each of these and see how results compare.

University of Berkley has a  search engine comparison guide which also includes the Exalead search engine.
SearchEngineLand has useful guides to using Google, Bing and Yahoo

You can see some very extensive lists of other search engines from the SearchEngineList and from internet guru Phil Bradley

Other search tools enable you to focus on specific types of data or on particular subjects. These allow you to cut out some of the less relevant or less academic results. Here are a few for you to consider – don’t forget to blog about ones for other subjects so as to share with other participants.

Wolfram Alpha Not a general search engine – rather a ‘computational search engine’ so great for finding statistics, mathematical equations, data, musical chords etc. You can check their subject examples for a suprisingly wide range of topics

Scirus for scientific information including journal articles, researcher information etc

TechXtra for engineering, mathematics and computing

Zanran for Statistics

Google Scholar  for scholarly papers.

Open Access Repositories
Repositories can contain full text access to pre-print versions of journal articles, theses, working papers etc. Much research is freely available, although sometimes there will be time delayed embargoes. This can mean that you will find different versions for example you may find the authors finished word document rather than the actual typeset and published article. Visit the Royal Holloway Repository here.

Many of the hits you find via Google Scholar are mined from open access repositories. You can also search repositories via Opendoar a world wide repository listing and directory. An alternative is Oaister which is now part of WorldCat. You can also go directly to a University’s homepage and search to see if they have a repository. This can be  useful if you’re looking for a thesis from another country or are looking for further information on a project associated with the university in question.

Meta Search engines and comparing search results from different search engines

You can compare the different number and type of results you’ve found between different search engines and Meta Search Engines allow you to do this easily. You may want to think about whether the quality of results vary and if different search engines offer different types of materials e.g. images or data? Can we ever search everything via a single search box? How much stuff is not included in search engines? This is something we are always telling students – search engines only cover a small part of the web.

Meta Search Engines

Meta Search Engines search across several search engines so that you don’t have to repeat your search in each one.  searches google, bing and yahoo and will state if results are exclusive to any of the providers Dogpile seems similar as it searches google, bing and yahoo and will state if results are exclusive to any of the providers. The design is quite cute with dog images though! You can search the UK version and compare results Zuula searches several different engines in addition to google, bing and yahoo. You can see results by each provider in results tabs at the top of the screen. You’ll see very wide variation between the different sets of results – you may also discover some odd results
Thing 14 Compare search engines

Try searching for your name in Zuula. How do the results compare? Why do you think that is? Is Google still your favourite search engine? Try running your search in one of the engines directly, and then compare the number of results you find running the same search using one of the meta engines – do you get the same number of results or not?

Adapted from the 23things City post on Google.


1 Comment

Filed under Information Literacy, Week 6

One response to “Thing 14: Search Engines – going beyond Google

  1. Pingback: Week 6: Information Literacy | 23 things RHUL

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