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March 30, 2009

Try Your Query on a Different Search Engine

Google's search results pages haven't changed that much over time and most of the changes were subtle. An useful feature that has been removed was a list of competing search engines you could use if Google's results weren't very good. Here's an example from 2001:

"Try your query on: AltaVista Excite Google Groups (Deja) HotBot Lycos Yahoo!"


But Google's results have improved, the number of competing search engines has decreased and the list had to be updated frequently, so Google decided to remove the feature. Some add-ons have revived the feature: Customize Google is the most popular, but my favorite implementation is the Greasemonkey script "Try this search on", which lets you switch between different search engines.

Google's Matt Cutts had the idea to bring back the old feature as close to the original as possible and Tiffany Lane, another Google engineer, developed Retro Links, a Greasemonkey script that lists some alternative search engines at the bottom of the search results page. The list is customizable and you can choose between 42 services: Yahoo, Live Search, Flickr, Wikipedia, Gmail and many others.


I think it would be interesting if Google started to suggest third-party search engines that could provide useful results for your queries, based on your search history, location and relevance. In some cases, Google could even display results from other sites in some special OneBoxes: Flickr results sorted by "interestingness", Delicious bookmarks sorted by popularity, Twitter posts that are related to recent events etc.

9 comments:

  1. Yeah, i think if default page at google result give us choice to try search our queries at another search engines, that will be great for google users. Cause they can compare their queries from several search engines, and that will be useful for SEO, cmiiw :)

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  2. I think Google should just keep providing the best results and not add others to clutter things.

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  3. There´s a very neat Greasemonkey script that delivers the 5 most recent Twitter results on top of your Google search results:
    http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/43451

    And the above also works together nicely with Googlepedia, a Firefox add-on that delivers the most relevant Wikipedia result on the right side of your Google results:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2517

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  4. Your last paragraph would be very interesting.

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  5. I agree with rayearth....giving this option will be more user-friendly and will make lives of searches bit more easier.

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  6. This is a good feature to have all search engine queries at one place.

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  7. I don't like the idea of adding other search engines. As long as I get the desired search result, one search engine will do.

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  8. http://search-different.appspot.com

    This lets you search your query on different search engines without typing it again and again!

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