Search Engine Shoot-Out

New Services Put Search in Your Hands

From personalized search engines to deep-Web infiltrators to throwback human-powered Web indexers, these are the new search resources that we've come to rely on.

Rollyo: The big search engines are great for everyday queries, but what if the information you're looking for is a bit esoteric? Rollyo is the place to go. Here you can create your own "Searchroll," a customized search engine that provides results from up to 25 sites of your choosing.

Getting started is easy: Enter a Searchroll name and some sites (Rollyo says 5 to 15 work best), and then pick a category (such as 'News & Media'). Add a few tags or keywords if you wish to help others find your creation. The real fun is in exploring other people's Searchrolls. The site has lists of popular and recently added Searchrolls--who knew that Diane Von Furstenberg had one?--and you can search by keyword or URL for topics that interest you. So if Google isn't delivering on your "Antarctic beach volleyball" query, Rollyo is the place to go.

Congoo: Ever hear of the "Dark Web"? It sounds ominous, but don't be afraid. The term refers to the huge chunk of Web content that search engines can't index, including paid-subscription sites (such as that of the Wall Street Journal) and password-protected corporate and government databases. In addition, some pages can't be indexed because there are no links to their content, or because their very long and complex URLs are too difficult for search engines to crawl.

Certainly, much of this content is hidden for a reason. A corporation, for instance, doesn't want the product development and marketing plans on its intranet made public. But you do have a way to search many paid-content sites. Even better, you can access that content--some of it, anyway--without paying a penny. Congoo NetPass, a free utility that's available at their website, allows you to search and read a limited number of stories from 35 popular paid-content sites, including the online homes of Billboard, Encyclopaedia Britannica, New Republic, and the WSJ. You can make between 4 and 15 visits per month, depending on the site. When you exceed the monthly allotment of visits to a particular site, you're prompted to subscribe to the service, since you're apparently finding it useful.

Download the free Congoo NetPass toolbar, which attaches to your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser. Use it as you would any conventional toolbar: Simply type a query in the search box and press <Enter>. The service searches Yahoo for the standard Web results, but it also uses its own index to search for any related paid content, such as a full company profile from the MorningStar financial service. If you already use another search engine's toolbar, you might find that installing Congoo's shrinks your browser's viewable area, but just right-click your toolbar area and uncheck the options you're not using to enlarge your browser window.

PreFound: Another mashup of social networking and search, PreFound lets you express your expertise in a subject by creating your own Groups, which are composed of links to the best Web resources, whether news, images, video, or other information. The service offers to share its revenue from the AdBrite online-ad network with "Finders" who devise more than 150 Groups. You could also become one of the site's Featured Finders, who include university professors, outdoors enthusiasts, and even professional baseball players. Along with the PreFound search results for your query, you'll find the standard Google listings.

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