What’s the first site you think of when it comes to searching the internet?
Duh: Google .
The thing is, there are so many possibilities beyond Google when it comes to web discovery (and I’m not talking Yahoo or Bing).
Whether you want to juice up your brainstorm sessions, surface fresh content for your company social media channels, or simply challenge yourself to shake up your digital routine, check out these five cool ways—that you probably haven’t heard of before—to sift through the internet’s riches.
If you’ve ever typed a hashtag into Twitter’s practically useless search function and scrolled through the junky, unfiltered results, you’ll appreciate this nifty social media search engine. The site lets you plug in any hashtag, then generates an orderly cascade of search results sortable by post type (text, photo, or video) and platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube, and Vimeo).
If you work in social media, this is a great—free!—tool to add to your arsenal. It can also be incredibly useful if you’re job searching and looking for certain types of positions (think #marketingjobs).
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Ever wish there was a catch-all search resource that let you view results from multiple sites? For example, I was recently researching a camera and would’ve found it helpful to get intel from Google, Amazon, eBay, and a few photography blogs all in one place.
Enter: Phlo. Type in your search query, and find what you’re looking for on not just one search engine but many, simultaneously. Phlo comes preloaded with 30+ popular search sites (though you can add more), and each search you conduct pulls up a list of results by engine, all in one handy spot. Thanks to Phlo’s cross-device sync, you can also call up your saved sites and search history anywhere you use the app. (Currently available for Mac, iPhone, and iPad.)
This clean visual search engine is a pleasing alternative to the usual plain-text search results you scroll through on a daily (er, hourly) basis. Type in any word, and Niice pulls up a grid of related images: a combo of photos, graphics, and gifs. Hover over any one to see its source site, and click over to the original if you’re interested. You can also use the fun “surprise me” feature if you’re feeling particularly in need of inspiration.
Find what you’re looking for and change the world at the same time. Pick one or more causes you’d like to support (there are currently 12 to choose from in a range of areas, from cancer research to animal rescue), search via Sleio.com just as you would with Google, then each month the company sends 100% of its profits directly to its users’ causes. How does it profit? Through affiliate commissions with more than 30,000 retail websites, generated through your link clicks and online product purchases.
This tool brings the web to you, so you don’t have to hunt down the stories and updates you’re interested in. It’s basically your personalized internet portal, learning from the things you’re into to continually dish up increasingly tailored content. Search by bucket—Read, Listen, Travel, Watch, Follow Sports, and more—then dial down into specific topics. The more you use Theneeds, the more it’ll take your lead and provide you with exactly the stuff you’re in search of.
There may be only one resource for searching the internet that’s both a proper noun and a verb, let alone an official dictionary entry ; but in an age of limitless content and infinite tech tools with which to sort through that content, why not expand your horizons beyond Google?
Photo of search icon courtesy of Shutterstock .
Allison Stadd works in marketing & communications and is also a freelance blogger, digital life coach, and social media consultant. She's a fan of good books and good beer with equal enthusiasm, and when she's not slinging tweets, pins, and posts, you'll find her at the nearest concert hall.More from this Author