Have you ever been looking for something but didn’t know where to find it? If that something is online, then your search is over (or just about to begin). The following are 40 advanced and alternative search engines that you can use to find just about anything on the Internet. Use them to follow discussions about your industry, monitor your online reputation, and much more!
To start off our search adventure, let’s look at some general search engines beyond the top three.
Concerned about online privacy? DuckDuckGo prides themselves as being the search engine that does not track or personalize your searches and results. They even offer handy visual guides on Google tracking and filter bubbling. And if you’re an iOS user, you can set DuckDuckGo to be the default search engine in Safari. It’s also an option for Safari on MacOS.
Looking for an alternative to DuckDuckGo? Give Search Encrypt a try. Like DuckDuckGo, they are a privacy-based search engine. It includes a general search function, as well as image and video search.
Want trees planted while you search? That’s what Ecosia does! Simply run your normal searches and Ecosia will use its surplus income to conservationist organizations that plant trees. And you don’t have to sacrifice low-quality results to do good – Ecosia uses Bing and their own search algorithms.
If you want results from the top three search engines, but don’t want to go to them individually, try Dogpile. It’s results are pulled from the top three search engines “without all the mess.”
Want spam free search results? Blekko‘s mission is to provide a differentiated, editorial voice in search. They look for quality over quantity, source based authority over link based, removes sites whose primary purpose is monetization over information, and uses human curating through the use of user tags.
Looking for a search engine based on computation and metrics? Try WolframAlpha. It will give you website data, historical information by date, unit conversions, stock data, sports statistics, and more. You can see examples by topic to learn more.
Want an open source search engine? Check out Gigablast. While it doesn’t always get things right, it does provide a retro look, results return quickly, and a feature similar to the now-defunct Google Instant.
Social Network Specific Advanced Search
Need to find something specific on one of the top social networks? Here are some great advanced search pages.
Want to see a particular search across different areas of Facebook? Use Facebook Advanced Search. When you type in your query, click on the “see more results” link at bottom of the suggestions. Then use the filters on the left to see results within people, pages, places, groups, and more.
LinkedIn People Search
If you want to find some new connections on LinkedIn, use the Advanced People Search. This will let you narrow down your results by the above plus relationship and language. Premium members will have access to additional search filters including groups, company size, years of experience, and more.
LinkedIn Job Search
LinkedIn offers job seekers an Advanced Job Search to find jobs using the above information plus experience level and industry. Premium members can narrow their search down further by the salary offered.
LinkedIn Answers Search
LinkedIn Answers is a great way to gain exposure and build authority in your industry. Use the Answers Advanced Search to find the perfect questions to answer.
Twitter’s Advanced Search is a great way to find better results on Twitter. It is especially great for businesses looking for a local audience by allowing them to filter their results using the Near this place field.
The following search engines will allow you to search one or more social networks in one place and gain additional data about the results.
Keyhole allows you to search for hashtags, keywords, @mentions, and URLs. Want to see how your latest blog post was shared across social networks? Just select URL on Keyhole and put in the URL and you’ll see who has shared it.
Social Mention allow you to search across multiple types of networks including blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, comments, events, images, news, and more.
Use Buzzsumo if you have a topic in mind and want to see which articles on the web were most shared for that particular search. There is a paid version that can give you access to more tools for each topic.
Want to participate on forums in your industry? Use this search engine to find results specifically on forums.
BoardReader allows you to search forums and narrow results down by date (last day through last year) and language.
Find industry related blogs and posts using the following search engines.
Regator allows you to search for blogs and posts on any topic, then narrow down your results by posts with audio or video, date range, topic, and domain.
Documents, eBooks, and Presentations
If you’re looking for documents, eBooks, presentations, or other similar file types, try the following searches.
Google Advanced Search
Google Advanced Search allows you to search for specific types of documents. Looking specifically for PDFs? Set that as your criteria. Want to search for Word docs or Powerpoint presentations? Then tell Google to find those file types.
Scribd is the largest social reading and publishing network that allows you to discover original written content across the web. Sort results by category, language, length, file types, upload date, and cost (free or for sale).
SlideShare is the largest community for sharing presentations. If you missed a conference or webinar, there’s a good chance the slides from your favorite speakers are here.
Looking for beautiful images? Try these image search engines – note that you must gain permission to use any images you find unless they are specifically marked as Creative Commons licensed.
Flickr offers an advanced search screen that allows you to find photos, screenshots, illustrations, and videos on their network. You can also search within Creative Commons licensed content.
The ultimate image platform, Pinterest allows you to search for anything visual – clothing, cars, floors, airplanes, etc and pin it to your favorites. Just be sure you don’t steal copyright work. You will need to have an account before you can begin searching.
Bing offers an image search that starts out with the top trending images, then leads to images which can be filtered by size, layout, and other criteria. They also display tabs above the results with related search queries.
Google Advanced Image Search allows you to get even more specific about the images you are looking for, including specifying whether they are faces, photos, clip arts, or line drawings. You can also search within images labeled for reuse commercially and with modifications.
Have you seen an image around the web and want to know where it came from? That’s what TinEye is for. Just put your image in the search box and TinEye will find where that image has been seen from around the web.
Creative Commons Media
Need to find media created by others to use on your website? Try these Creative Commons searches.
Looking for only images that you can repurpose, use for commercial purposes, or modify? Try the Creative Commons Search which will allow you to look through multiple sources including Flickr, Google Images, Wikimedia, and YouTube.
Wikimedia Commons has over 12 million files in their database of freely usable images, sound bites, and videos. Use the search box or browse by categories for different types of media.
Looking for video to embed on your website or simply entertain you? Try these video search engines that look across multiple sources to find what you need.
Yahoo Video Search allows you to search through video content from their own network, YouTube, Dailymotion, Metacafe, Myspace, Hulu, and other online video providers for videos on any topic.
360Daily allows you to go beyond YouTube to find videos on any topic from hundreds of sites including big names like YouTube and Hulu. If you’re looking for video, you’ll likely find it here.
AOL Video Search
AOL Video aggregates the days best clips from around the web, but you can also use it as a search engine.
With Google Video Search you’ll be able to search for videos on any topic and filter your results by duration, date when uploaded, video source, and much more.
Website Data & Statistics
Looking for information about your favorite brands and websites? Try out these search engines for data and statistics.
CrunchBase offers insight into your favorite online brands and companies. Listings will tell you people who are associated with a company, contact information, related videos, screenshots, and more.
SimilarWeb allows you to search for website or app profiles based specific domains or app names. Domains with a high volume of traffic will have data including total regional visitors per month, pageviews online vs. mobile, demographics, sites similar audiences like, and more.
Curious to see what technology your favorite sites use and usage trends of that technology? BuiltWith allows you to search for domains and see the technology they use, including analytics, content management systems, coding, and widgets. You can also click on any of the products to see usage trends, industries using the technology, and more.
Can’t get away from Google, but want to get more out of it than a simple Google.com search? Try these advanced Google search features.
Google Advanced Search
If you are looking for articles, theses, books, abstracts, court opinions or other information provided by academic publishers, professional societies, and university, try Google Scholar Advanced Search. You can also use Advanced Operators to refine your search results even more.
Google Advanced Book Search will help you find search queries in books. You can also find entire books published online that might be available to download via PDF (when in the public domain).
Google Search Features
Need to check stock quotes, the time in another city, sports scores, or other specific information? The Google Search Features page allows you to search for everyday essentials, local listings, health information, and much more.
What are your favorite advanced and alternative search engines? Please share them and how you use them in the comments, and happy searching!
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on Google+, and Twitter.