Warning: This isn’t a knocking post about Google. Google is great for the vast amount of searches we do, but it’s always dangerous as a journalist to fall into the trap of only ever using one search.
If Google does have a problem, it’s the fact that with so many different organisations competing to be on the first page of results, it’s quite possible that the search results for a given term won’t change from one month to the next.
There are an abundance of other search engines around – some good, some bad, some just a little different – but there are a number which I’ve found useful for journalistic purposes over the past few months.
Here’s five – and how they could be used.
1. Addictomatic: Best for one glance at your beat
Addictomatic is ideal if you have a set brief in your job – be it as a district reporter or a specialist. Enter a search term – in the screen grab above I’ve used “Sutton Coldfield” and it returns the most recent results from a variety of sources including Youtube, Bing, Google Blog Search, and Flickr. A bit like Google Reader in a sense – it’s a one-stop place to keep up to date on an issue – but without the hassle of setting it up.
2. Wolfram Alpha: Best for one fact answers quickly
Launched in a blaze of glory not so long ago, it aims to to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable
by anyone. While it’s still a way off from achieving that goal, it’s a much handier way of working things out that going through Google (although Google is launching more and more stat-type search tools all the time). It’s great for stocks and shares information, for working out ages, for getting statistics on places and subjects you might be searching for. Oh yes, and it’s great at doing sums for you too!
3. Keotag: Best for searching across blogs
Keotag is the best search engine I’ve found when searching for blogs. It searches around 17 search facilities and then lets you search through the results, search engine by search engine. I’ve always found searching blogs infuriating, and often Twingly, Icerocket and Google Blogs get dominated by non-blogs or by spam. I think Keotag get around this by just looking at tags in blog posts. As a result, the searches results tend to be much better. The fact you can clearly search multiple search engines in one place is a big boost.
4. Cuil – Best for research at the start of a project
Cuil had made a big play about the fact it doesn’t doesn’t return results on page rank, it also digs into each page, and then finds content which is related to it. It then serves it up in a way which makes it great for getting to grips with a subject. Kosmix.com is also good in this respect. as starting points go for research on a new subject quickly, both beat Google.
5. Omgili – Finding the conversations people are having in forums
Omgili is the sort of search engine I’ve been looking for for ages – one which makes it easy to find places where people are talking about what you might be writing about. Boardreader does this, but not as well, while others have come and gone. If you’re after just monitoring what’s being discussed on Twitter then search.twitter.com is the most effective option. But, as a journalist looking for communities who might be able to get involved/might be interested in what you’re writing about, Omgili is superb.
This list isn’t intended to be a definitive list of the search engines journalists should seek to use, so if you’ve got any secret search engines, please tell me about them!