Five slick search engines you should know about

Google, Yahoo and Bing get the press but Exalead, Scour, Hunch , Scirus and Indeed fill a void

With Microsoft's recent addition of Bing to the search landscape, the spotlight is again shining on who has the best engine for finding anything and everything on the Internet. The debate over who has the best search likely will go on into eternity with a focus on the big three: Google,Yahoo and Microsoft. But there are countless other search engines out there focused on zeroing users in on the data they want or need. Here is a look at five that are offering some slick service.

Exalead

The University of California Berkeley Library recommends a second opinion when searching the Internet, and Exalead is one of its top recommendations.

The search engine features a number of advanced options including phonetic search for those who are sometimes spelling challenged. Spell a word like it sounds and results will include words that sound like what was typed into the search field.There is also a proximity search feature with a "Near" operator that finds documents where the query terms are within 16 words of each other, and a "Next" operator where search terms are next to each other. Other options include searching in a specific language only, after or before a certain date, and a prefix search that looks for the beginning letters of a word.In the results, users see thumbnail pictures of Web pages, which can be pulled up and previewed without leaving the site.In addition, Exalead has enterprise search products available (desktop, network). Its Cloudview platform support 300 formats, including structured data (RDBMS, ERP, Lotus Notes, directories) and unstructured content (e-mail messages, PDFs, Office documents, Web pages).

Scour

Social networking meets social searching. Users can offer feedback on results of their search queries, which are tabulated from across the three top search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). The feedback moves individual results either up or down in the rankings, which is designed to make the results more relevant as time goes on. Users also can create custom algorithm, which lets them determine how results will be ranked.

Users can gain as many as three points per search (one each for searching, voting, commenting), and earn a $25 Visa gift card for each 6,500 points they collect. Users also earn 25% of the points earned by users they refer to the Scour.Scour is developing search widgets for Windows and Mac desktops, and a Yahoo search widget.

Hunch

Hunch is all about a decision engine, asking the user 10 questions or less to arrive at a solution to a problem or concern. At the core of the search site is a question selection algorithm built by Hunch's small collection of Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientists with backgrounds in machine learning.

The design is such that questions are asked just like a human would structure a line of questioning. The questions asked vary based on what has already been asked and how it was answered.

And Hunch is another search engine with a social aspect. The smarts are a collection of common knowledge derived from users who can submit new topics, questions to ask and decision outcomes.

Hunch says its algorithm is a mathematical framework married with a group of users who provide "personality by contributing to it and making it clever, funny, and nuanced."

Scirus

Scirus is a playground for all things scientific. The site searches more than 485 million science-specific Web pages and is built on technology developed by Fast Search and Transfer, now owned by Microsoft. The Scirus engine focuses only on Web pages containing scientific content. If users search for REM they won't see any results for the popular band.

The search engine picks up peer-reveiwed articles such as PDF and PostScript files and dives into digital archives and patent and journal databases.

Scirus has a range of subject areas including health, life, physical and social sciences. Users can rank results by relevance or by date.

The simple search site also has a link to the latest stories New Scientist News.

The advanced search lets users narrow results based on subject, information (articles, books and so on), file formats and specific sources.

Indeed

Sometimes a search engine can be a uniquely personal experience and so is the case with Indeed, which is a site that aggregates job postings. But you won't submit your resume here or chat on discussion boards; Indeed offers an aggregation of posted jobs on some 1,500 sites from industry sites to corporate job boards.

Indeed's simple interface lets users type in job keywords and what city they want to work in. The result is a list of jobs in your area.

But that is just where the search begins. Users can narrow the search by salary range, title, company, and distinguish between recruiters looking for applicants and company's searching for employees.

Indeed has a feature that lets users request to look only at the jobs that have been added to the site since they last visited. The site also provides a trending graph for salaries in particular fields and cities, and a month-by-month graph that tracks the number of jobs posted for the category you are searching.

The "Where are the Jobs" feature shows you how many jobs there are per 1,000 people in the top 50 most populated metropolitan areas.

Users that create an account get more features. They can save searches and create Job Alerts.

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