Wednesday, December 21

Beyond Google: specialty and alternative SEs

Kevin Delaney wrote an article that ran Monday in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Beyond Google" where he looks at specialty search engines and databases. Here is the public link for the article. It's a good survey of vertical search engines broken down by category. Of note, Globalspec got a mention along with Scirus and LawCrawler as "industry" search tools:
GlobalSpec Inc., for one, offers an engineering search engine that searches about 200 million engineering and technical Web pages. GlobalSpec, of Troy, N.Y., also allows users to search within specialized databases, such as published technical standards and patent filings in the U.S. and internationally.
Perhaps it's a pet peeve, but some of the sites Delaney lists are specailized databases, not true vertical search engines. When people say "search engine" today there is an implicit reference to Google, and therefore web search engines. A web search engine is a subclass of database, a very large database (VLDB). I think it is important to differentiate between these specialized, vertical, web search engines and specialized database driven websites. Gary Price at SE Watch gets this right, with their follow-up to the story, Specialty Databases (Verticals) The Focus of a WSJ article. Apparently, Gary was one important source for Kevin's story.

Since we are talking about search engines beyond Google, LifeHacker also recently posted a list of top ten alternative search engines.

One of my favorite new vertical search engines is FoodieView - "The Recipe Search Engine". It integrates a "Recipe Box" where you can save search results. Pretty neat. My own big beef with FoodieView is the ads. I really dislike the way FoodieView integrates their ads in line with the organic search results. It makes the search results difficult to read and starts to blur between paid and organic results. Two thumbs down on that aspect. For now, I'll stick with RollyO, where I can accomplish the same thing by limiting the sites I search (without the annoying ad format). In addition, the Rollyo results are even a little more comprehensive and better ranked. However, I have to say cheers to the creators of FoodieView for an interesting idea -- they beat me to the punch. Maybe someday I'll start a competitor in my spare time. ;-)

One hole in the WSJ article is blog search. There are lots of cool and interesting blog search engines -- Technorati, IceRocket, Feedster, etc... and then newcomers such as OpinMind and hopefully soon, Sphere.

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