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July 27, 2007

Finding the Right Niche – Finding Your Alternatives

Ironically — or perhaps appropriately — the quickest way to find out about alternative search engines is to search on that phrase in Google. The first site that comes up is Search Engine Watch, a regular stop for anyone who does SEO. After all, they’ve been covering the field since 1996. If you visit this page on the site, it takes you to a list of links. These links take you to specific categories of search engines, such as news search engines, shopping search engines, multimedia search engines, kids’ search engines, specialty-related search engines, and more. If you have a fascination with knowledge in general and a few specific areas in particular, you might want to line up a number of pointed queries, get comfortable with this site, and spend a day or two poking around. Depending on how lucky you’ve been finding that kind of information on Google, you just might find some new favorites.

Another web site worth checking is altsearchengines. The entire site is devoted to coverage of alternative search engines, though it does cover the majors as well. You can subscribe to the site via email or RSS feed. While the site definitely has the feel of a professional blog (which is what it is, essentially), it’s better organized, making it somewhat easier to find things. There are colorful tabs labeled “alts,” “majors,” “updates,” “in beta,” “newcomers,” “news” and “verticals” to help you navigate. There are also ads from alternative search engines on the site. Each month, they compile a list of the top 100 alternative search engines; it seems to have turned into a mission for Charles Knight, the man doing the compiling. Here’s a link to the list for April 2007.

To coin an analogy, think of Google as the biggest department store in the world (I know, that’s either Wal-Mart or Amazon, but bear with me). For most of your needs, you’ll probably be able to find the right item at that department store. But say your portly Aunt Edna just fell and did something nasty to her knee, for which she now needs a custom-built brace. You wouldn’t go to the department store for that; you’d go to a hospital, which would be able to refer to you to the right place to have that made.

By the same token, if you’re looking for the most up-to-date medical information on a particular condition, you might go to Google if it’s a well-known and much-discussed condition such as breast cancer, but not if it’s something that’s more rare and unusual. For that, you’d be wise to consider some of the vertical search engines that explicitly cover the health and medical field.

Yet another site to check is Of course, it’s an alternative search engine itself these days. It has a guide, Wendy Boswell, for the Web Search topic. One of the areas she covers is search engines. The link I gave will take you to articles that review and discuss the alternatives. She even has an article titled “Web Search 101,” which gives you answers to frequently asked questions about search and helps you zoom in on the kind of search engine you want based on your needs.

Author:  Steve Buchanan writes article on many topics including Article Submission Service, Directory Submission Service, and Website Submission Services.