Big, generalist search engines such as Google are all very well, but there’s also a valid place for seeking out specialist search engines which can out-perform the generalist due to their narrower, more dedicated focus. Such search engines can provide a good way of retrieving more of what’s known as the “invisible” or “deep” web within their subject area – the sort of stuff that Google and friends don’t easily bring back in their search results.
An example of a very specialist search engine is the newly launched FindZebra, set up to help the medical profession find out more about rare diseases, known in the trade as zebras (read either link to find out why). Rare diseases are very hard to diagnose, so anything that can help speed up the process will be a good and useful tool.
Because the engine is focused on this specific mission, it can specialize in the range of sources it accesses and tailor the search platform too. It isn’t trying to cater for all needs, or all audiences either, for that matter. So it feels right that MIT Tech. Review’s article on the search engine should be able to report that it out-performed Google in returning relevant results.
This newly launched search tool serves as a useful reminder that big isn’t always better. For some searches, taking time to find and use a specialist resource will often retrieve information that would not otherwise have been found.