When it comes to search engines, Google is the first one that comes to our minds. There seems to be nothing it can’t find. Okay, except for the meaning of life and other important questions, perhaps. But mostly it can find everything that inhabits the Internet. “Are there alternatives?”, one would ask. Just like children ask their parents, if they can find their recommended amount of B vitamins anywhere else than in spinach.
Well, yes there are. Even if it sounds impossible that there are websites that can do something better than the praised search engine that invented a verb, they exist. At least 60, as a matter of fact. Of course, Google is able to help you with music, photos, shopping, movies, videos and so on, but other services can do it more efficiently.
Photo Search Engines
- Photoxpress – Their mission statement is finding you stock photos in high resolution for free. They have almost 400 thousand photos and they are all categorized. Sign up needed.
- Twitcaps – Since Twitter was set up, many useful applications for it came to life. One of them is Twitcaps, which shows pictures that were uploaded by Twitter in real time. Of course you can search them by tags and users.
- Feelimage – The authors of this website try to help you find photos by your “feel”. It distinguishes between 127 colors and times of a day. So you can easily find a red flower in the morning.
Xcavator– Xcavator helps you find stock photos from numerous providers with an interesting tool of color search. The service itself is free, but the photos it finds may not be. It has more than 6 million photos.
- Picsearch – They promise you to find more than 3 billion photos. Basically it works just like Google search, but it gives you additional information about the picture.
- Flickr – One of the most popular photo sharing communities, which allows you to find all the images uploaded by its members. The amount of pictures is impressive (more than 5000 images per minute are uploaded), while they can be geotagged.
- Imagery – It’s a quick way to finding images, while you can narrow the search with adjusting the parameters of size, color and file type.
- Exalead – Exalead gives you an option to directly download the found photos to your hard drive, without clicking your way from thumbnails to the original photo and left-clicking. It is also able to find photos by their orientation and can find only faces.
Visoo– Visoo Image Search helps you find photos by recognizing text (OCR), recognizing the graphics and ability to detect faces.
- Webshots – Webshots helps you search photos and wallpapers. You can share your own as well or you can send them as an eCard. Hundreds of millions of photos are arranged in topics.
Video Search Engines
- VideoSurf – I’ve already mentioned this website in my last article, but it is only fair to mention it again, since it is extremely powerful and useful. It searches videos through popular video sites and shows them with preview thumbnails.
- Clipta – Clipta is a nifty tool that finds videos in popular video sites like Dailymotion or Break. But it’s not the searching that makes this site awesome, it’s the additional stuff they offer. Their video community gives you an opportunity to upload your videos and earn money with them. Their Video News site shows you the breaking news videos from numerous sources. The Video Informer is where users recommend videos and in their Applications, you can find a video converter and their toolbar. Useful indeed!
- Clipblast – Clipblast gathers videos from numerous sources and puts them in categories like Popular Videos, Hot Searches and Hot Providers. You can share your clips, make alerts and download their widgets. Only for Mac at the moment. The best thing about them is the unbelievable long list of providers. Really long.
LoomTV– You start with a nice start site where you enter your search. After that you are sent to a special site with your inquiry results, a big player and tons of other options. You can search channels, see the Top 100 channels, add your own video et cetera.
- Blinkx – They say they have over 35 million hours of video (almost 4000 years) and they are arranged in 19 categories. There are two useful special buttons: “inform me” which gives you the important news of the day in video and the second one “entertain me” which gives you loads of funny videos.When you search for videos, they show you animated previews and related news.
- Truveo – Truveo helps you find your video with recommended phrases and shows you the sources (which you can exclude from the search). The interesting novelty are the “most twittered” videos.
- Filestube – It’s basically like YouTube, but perhaps more useful.
Cleepr– Cleepr is quick and cute, it shows you sources and genres, while the most fun is a popup video player.
- Metacafe – While Metacafe is probably one of the most popular video portals after YouTube, I must mention it. It is the biggest rival of YT, if you ask me. I’ve found plenty of interesting videos up there, that were not to be found on YouTube.
SearchForVideo– The most useful thing about this website are categories, while the search engine checks numbers of sources to find what you are looking for.
Social Media Search Engines
- Topsy – Topsy is a search engine powered by tweets. You can filter them by the time they were submitted.
- Knowem – This groovy site checks 120 Social Media websites if your desired username is available. Pretty cool.
Tweepz– Who is twitting? Tweepz is crawling more than 6 million twitter accounts. You can search Twitters and see how popular they are, their description and the time they last refreshed their account.
- Spokeo – Spokeo is actually a creepy tool. When you log on with your email account, the site searches the Net for your contacts and shows you what they do online. Photos they upload to myspace, things they do on Facebook, what they upload to Blogger and so on. Of course for free you only get a bit of the “juicy” information you’re craving for. If you want the full spy coverage of your friends, you have to pay. But it’s still good to know we are “spiable”.
- Happenr – While a bundle of website are exclusive for the United States, I feel obliged to offer my fellow Europeans a website that is exclusive for Europe. Happenr finds events in most of the European cities. You can search by country, city or tags. When you select the event, it show you the price, location, a map and a description.
- 123People – Here’s another “spying tool”, which helps you find anyone. Well, those who are online, that is. All you have to do is enter a name and a last name, which gives you images, links to social websites, phone numbers, email addresses, blogs, videos and microblogs. Of course it generates a tag cloud for you, checks news for the name you search, biographies and documents. When I searched for myself, I was pretty relieved. It only found that I’m on Facebook and some web links. So my online presence is not yet alarming.
- BuddyFetch – If you want to make new friends, you can find them with BuddyFetch. You can define sex, age, location, language and hobbies. The search engine shows you the results with few details and shows you where your new friend is available. The problem is the site searches everything that has your search terms, which makes it a bit useless from time to time.
- SwimWire – If you are fed up with checking hundreds of your social websites separately, these folks can help you. SwimWire enables you to aggregate your online identities and put al your social networks on one page. Pretty useful for those who are all over the place. Sign up required.
- Twingly – Twingly searches the blogosphere for whatever you are looking for. They are striving to become the best blog search engine in the world. Search results are listed by their popularity, but you can filter them by sources, date or languages.
- Pipl – Pipl is similar to 123People and helps you find people by their names, residence, email, username or phone number.
Music Search Engines
- Meuzer – Meuzer helps you find music by search terms or genres. When you find the song, you can play it, share it or rate it. It plays the YouTube video on the side of the site.
- WeAreHunted – This website checks what people are listening to on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Forums and P2P. They gather the information and create charts of the most popular songs online.
TheRadio– All you have to do is enter the artist or genre and the website will launch a radio with songs related to your inquiry. Give it some time when searching.
- SSMünch – This is basically an MP3 search engine, which can find you videos and lyrics as well. You can also create your own playlists. I probably have to point out that this website is not intended for illegal downloads.
- Mufin – Mufin (no typo here) helps you discover new music. You enter your favorite song or artist and it finds songs that are similar to your inquiry. Then you have an option to preview the track, see a video of a full-length track or buy it.
- Hypem – Hypem snoops around the Internet and aggregates what people write about music. It recognizes the song mentioned in a blog post and gives you an option to listen to it. I like the idea.
- StumbleAudio – If you like the popular StumbleUpon, you will like StumbleAudio. You tell them what you like and keep hitting the Stumble button. They will provide you all the music you probably like. You can rate the music, share it or buy it.
Qloud– You can find any music you like, listen it online, add it to the library, buy it or twit about it. You can log in with your Google Friend account.
- Tunefind – Ever wonder which song they used in a certain movie or a TV show? Tunefind shows you which songs were used in recent shows or movies or you can find it on your own.
- Songza – Songza works like Meuzer, but you can twit about songs, add them to your Facebook account or embed them.
Travel Search Engines
NextStop– NextStop is all about recommendations. People share what they love about their place or places they visit and create a “catalog of authentic experiences” as they proclaim on the website. You can search places, see the popular locations and be challenged by users.
- Ruba – With Ruba, it’s all about lists. Users like you make lists of top attractions in world cities, best food or interesting facts about their countries. Pretty useful if you’re planning your trip but don’t really know where to go and what to see.
- Gekko – As they say on the site, it finds what you love so you love what you find. The site recommends you the best hotels and restaurants. Hotels are divided by their design and restaurants by the type of the food or atmosphere.
GoPlanIt– This website helps you plan your trip. They give you a short description of the destination, list the top activities, top restaurants and top hotels. They show you the weather and help you book the flight, the accommodation or car rental. Everything you need, basically.
- PlanetEye – Similar to GoPlanIt, PlanetEye gives you plenty of useful information about your destination. Beside a detailed description they give you a map, flight prices, photos, ratings, local experts, activities, most recommended accommodations, attractions and dining.
- ZoomAndGo – They help you find the perfect vacation based on your wishes what to see, where to go and what to do. Users share their experiences, thousands of photos and videos. The site is useful because you can meet other travelers and ask them for advices.
- GPSies – This website with a witty name shows you walking trails all over the world. You can download an iPhone application or connect to the website with your mobile phone.
- HotelsCombined – This site searches all the travel sites at once and helps you find the cheapest accommodation. Other travelers post their experiences and hotel reviews, while you can book a hotel directly from their site.
- Triporama – Their tagline is “Plan Together, Travel Together”. That means you create a group trip homepage and send invites. You discuss with your friends and map your itinerary together. The dandy feature are the site’s guides. You can check for instance the “weekend getaways”, “buddies travel” or “beach vacations”.
Tripology– This is a very useful trip planner. Enter your destination, define if you need a flight and accommodation, tell them where you start, when you leave and how many nights you plan staying. Then you proceed with their questionnaire and they help you with the rest.
Book Search Engines
- BookFinder – If you are buying or selling books, this website is a place for you. They search every major catalog and tell you which bookseller is offering the best prices and selection. You can search for new or used, rare and out-of-print books in various languages all over the world.
- Biblio – Biblio is similar to BookFinder, but it is good to know it in case you don’t find a book there.
- Scribd – On Scribd, people upload e-books and PDFs. You can find whole books, academic writings, brochures, manuals, maps, magazines, recipes, resumes or music sheets. There are million of documents to view, download or share.
Librospot– With Librospot, you can search, explore, save and share your favorite books. You can simply log in with your Google account, log your books, check descriptions or buy it from Amazon.
BookArmy– They promise us that we won’t have to read a bad book again. They will equip you with useful information about books you like, show you what other readers think about them, introduce you to authors and recommend you something new to read, if you sign up.
- Shelfari – Shelfari is an interesting website where you store books you’ve read or are about to read on a virtual shelf. Connect with your friends and see what they are reading, show off your books and discover new books.
- BigBookSearch – If you judge books by their covers, literally, this site is for you. Search books and see their covers. If you click on them, they’ll redirect you to Amazon.
BookTagger– On the other hand, if you don’t like to judge books by their covers, check this website. List books you’ve read, browse bookshelves of others, find people with similar taste, create lists, review books or order them.
- AllReaders – Even though this website looks old school, it is really smart. If other sites classify books only by names and authors, AllReaders does it based on plot, setting, character and writing style. It’s for books what Jinni is for movies. Now, the Precision Booksearch is really precise, since you can define every detail, like how difficult it is to spot the villain, if there is a big focus on autopsies, what kind of an investigator and so on. You have to find a perfect novel for you.
- Alibris – Alibris is another online webstore, but I thought you should know it.
See, Google is not the most powerful force on Earth, as some might say. Go and ask it how long your hair is at this very moment and it won’t know the answer. Humor aside, there are loads of useful pages out there, and if I wanted to list them all, I would need a vacation just to find them. But then again, I believe you know many other search engines and useful web pages, so I invite you to share your knowledge with the rest of us in the comments. That’s what the Internet is for, right?