There's a variety of search engines available that each work differently to locate something on the web. Some have more options, others limit the search to a very specific type of content, and some are more privacy-minded than others.
So, which search engine should you use? The choice is really up to you, but here are some questions you should ask yourself before settling on one:
- What are you hoping to find?
- Do you prefer a clean and simple user interface, or something with lots of options?
- Will you mind if the search engine keeps a log of your activity?
- From what device will you use the search engine?
There Are Different Types of Search Engines
One search engine simply isn't capable of finding all types of content, and that's not even considering the fact that search engines don't search the entire web. What you should do first and foremost is consider what you're looking up—pick a search engine that will find the things you're looking for.
Are you searching for images? Make sure the search engine includes an image search function. There are lots of image search engines you can pick from.
If it's videos you want, stick with a website that has videos or make sure the search engine will return video results, too.
There are also all-in-one search engines that can find multiple types of content, but it's important to remember that there might also be a dedicated search engine that will work better for the specific things you're looking up.
For example, while Google is helpful for finding people online, it can also find web pages, images, videos, and more. However, a people search engine that’s been built for doing just that, is much more helpful for that kind of search.
There are also general web search engines, invisible web search engines, mobile-optimized search engines, and niche search engines.
Some sites let you search multiple search engines at once to get more out of a single search. Dogpile is one example.
Is Privacy Important?
It’s pretty well known that some search engines (like Google) track what you look up and can even deliver personalized ads to all your devices based on what you appear to like. In your quest for the best search engine for you, you should consider whether this isn’t a problem for you or if you want a secure, privacy focused search engine.
DuckDuckGo is one example of a search engine that doesn’t collect any personal information. Startpage is similar, claiming to be the world’s first and most private search engine.
The Torch search engine, available on the dark web via Tor Browser, is another private search engine.
Some Have Advanced Search Options
Advanced search options are filters and settings you can enable to help narrow down the search. If you want to make sure you have full control over what results you see, you’ll want to pick a search engine that supports Boolean searches and other advanced options.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing are a few examples of search engines that can help with this. When you employ advanced search options, you can drastically cut down on the results you see, which can help you find what you're looking for.
Other search engines might be way less configurable and might only include a simple text box for entering words.
Web Directories Are Sometimes Better
Human-made lists and directories, called web directories, might be a preferred way for you to browse the web. Someone else has done the work for you so that all you have to do is browse their premade list.
For example, we have a list of the best places to get free textbooks online. That list is a collection of sites that you can use to find books, but it’s not really a search engine because you can’t quite search through it. However, it provides a quick way to find what you’re looking for without having to do any digging yourself.
If you want to take the manual searching out of it, just look for lists such as the best places to find free movies, where students can get free software, programs that can update your computer’s device drivers, the best Android phones, etc.