31 Unified interface for separate search engines

Austin Ruby

Introduction

Joongel.com, soovle.com, and search.io are all search tools for utilizing multiple search engines using one query. They allow you to search different search engines, different categories of search engines and results, and even to see search suggestions from various search engines before seeing your results. Without leaving the page, you are easily able to toggle between different search engine results, making this an incredibly convenient and efficient way to conduct the same search on multiple sites. These sites are useful when you are looking for a lot of different information related to the same query, and you don’t want to have to visit multiple sites to see your results. They are also useful if you don’t know exactly what kind of results you are looking for, and you just want a broad range of searches from the same category of websites. These unified interface sites are meant to make it easier for you to sift through the enormous amount of information on the Internet by narrowing down your search results to a few different sites.

Author’s Note: For this chapter, we’ll be using the search query [global warming] to compare the search engines. This is a very general query that should really highlight the differences in the results from each one.

Also, it may be difficult to see the screenshots in detail because they’re so small, but if you click on them you’ll be able to see an enlarged view.

Joongel

How to use

Upon arriving at the Joongel homepage, you will see the different categories you can search using Joongel, along with the different search engines used for each category. Each search category features results from the top 10 different search engines in their respective categories, which you can click through one at a time once you’ve entered your search.

The first thing you’ll have to do is enter your search query. Once you’ve done this, you can either choose a category from the drop-down menu at the top of the page, or select a category or specific search engine from the list displayed in the middle of the page. This will give you your results.

After searching [global warming], these were the results:

Once you’ve gotten your results, you can click through the different search engines of whichever category you’ve selected using the Joongel toolbar at the top of the page. This search was conducted within the general category, which includes Google, Yahoo, Delicious, Twitter, and six other sites that can be seen in the above screenshot. As you can see, Joongel just re-enters the query into the 10 different search engines. This works for most of the search engines, but a few of them either show a blank screen or give some message along the lines of “Your search returned no results.” This is because the way Joongel structures its queries occasionally gets messed up, and the query Joongel searches in the specific search engine isn’t the same as the query you typed into Joongel. When you get this error message, you can just re-enter your query into the specific search engine’s search box to get the results from that website.

You can also create a new search or switch the search category and keep the same search with the Joongel toolbar at the top of the page. As you can see, the toolbar also allows you to quickly and conveniently switch between the results of the different search engines without having to go to their respective websites and enter the search 10 different times. That’s the major benefit of using a meta search engine with a unified interface. That being said, if you find the results you want and you no longer need to use Joongel, you can exit out of the Joongel toolbar, and you’ll be able to navigate your search results without the toolbar getting in the way.

Comparison with Google Web search

Joongel has integrated Google’s various searches into as many of its search categories as possible, so you’ll often get Google’s results within Joongel. Because of this, the results you get are better than those you would get using just Google, because in addition to Google’s search you’ll have access to the results from 9 other search engines. So, for a search like [global warming], the results should be identical:

As you can see, the results are exactly the same between Joongel’s Google results and Google’s results. Because Joongel gives the same results as Google in addition to others, Joongel is better than Google for a lot of searches when you’re looking for a wide range of information. If you know you’re just going to use Google’s results, then it’s faster to just use Google.

Unfortunately, Joongel only uses Google search engines in 8 of its 23 different cateogries, and Joongel struggles in the other 15 categories to compete with Google. For example, Joongel’s music category is limited to Pandora, Grooveshark, last.fm, and 7 other lesser-known music sites. Conducting a search for [jack johnson] using these sites returns essentially no results. Some of the search engines don’t even load, while those that do simply load the homepages of the websites without searching for [jack johnson]. On the other hand, if you were to search [jack johnson listen] using Google, you would get results from many of the search engines Joongel uses that actually include Jack Johnson, in addition to results from sites that Joongel doesn’t use.

Versus Google

As you can see, Google’s results give you easier and quicker access to websites where you can actually listen to Jack Johnson’s music.

The bottom line is that Joongel is a good tool to use when its results include Google’s because it allows you to see Google’s results in addition to the results from other search engines. Unfortunately, Joongel is seriously lacking when it doesn’t include Google’s results because the results are limited to just 10 search engines, while Google’s results include a wider variety of websites.

How to get the most out of it

Joongel is a very straightforward search engine, and doesn’t really have any special search operators or differentiating features to use while you search. They do have links to add Joongel to your browser or your desktop, or to make Joongel your homepage, but none of the links actually work.

To reiterate the comparison with Google, Joongel is a great site to use when you want to be able to easily and conveniently see the results of the same search across multiple sites. However, when your search falls into a category that Joongel doesn’t use Google for, Joongel’s added convenience fails to outweigh the lack of breadth in its results.

Soovle

How to use

Soovle’s utility doesn’t come from the actual results it produces from a search query. It helps you with your search by allowing you to see the search suggestions from multiple search engines all on the same page, in real time as you type in your query. It’s also really cool to look at and fun to mess around with. When you first arrive at the website, you’ll see a search box in the middle of the screen, surrounded by 7 search engines. Directly above the search box is a pair of brackets, and the search engine above the brackets is the engine whose results you’ll see when you press enter. You can switch which search engine is on top by pushing the right arrow key. This is where the fun comes in, since pushing the arrow key rapidly over and over makes the search engine logos swirl around quickly and it looks very cool. You can also customize which search engines are on the screen by clicking the “engines” link in the top right corner of the screen, and dragging the logo of the search engine you’d like to add over the logo of the search engine you want to get rid of. If 7 search engines isn’t enough, you can select 11 or 15 also under the “engines” tab.

 

Once you’ve selected which search engines you want, you’re ready to start your search. As you type your search, the actual search suggestions from each of the 7 search engines on the screen will appear on the screen and will change as you continue to type your search. Once you press enter, you’ll be taken to the search results on whichever site you’ve chosen (in the screenshot below, Google is the selected search engine).

With the query [global warming], even though it’s only partially typed in, Soovle’s already generated search suggestions from each of the 7 selected search engines.

While still on Soovle, if you see a search suggestion you’d like to save, you can drag it to the book icon in the top left corner of the browser, which will save it on Soovle. Also in the top left corner, you can clear your search by clicking the stars logo. If you’re just interested in browsing the Web, you can see the top Web keywords for the day that you’re using Soovle, and which search engines were used to search for them.

Comparison with Google Web search

Soovle includes Google’s search suggestions, assuming you select it as one of your search engines. Because of this, Soovle is better when you’re looking for a variety of results from a variety of different websites, not just Google. Soovle’s Google search suggestions are even more extensive than Google’s own search suggestions as you can see from the above screenshots. The added suggestions from Soovle will help you to think of more ideas for your search.

If you’re just doing a quick search, and you know Google will have what you need, then Google is a better option than Soovle because it is faster and more convenient.

How to get the most out of it

There isn’t a log in feature on Soovle, but it saves your bookmarked search suggestions as long as you use the same browser every time you’re on Soovle. For example, you could save a few suggestions on Soovle using Chrome as your browser, and then quit Chrome, and the saved suggestions will still be there when you use Soovle again in Chrome on the same computer. However, if you switch to a different browser on the same computer, or the same browser on a different computer, your searches won’t be saved.

To get the most out of Soovle, you should make sure you always use the same internet browser on your computer. That will allow you access to your saved search suggestions and Soovle will remember which search engines you use. You’ll also want to make sure you pick the optimal search engines for each search you use, since not all search engines offer the same features and results. You should especially keep in mind the search suggestions of each search engine. Additionally, you should use the bookmarks feature to help you keep track of your searches. Finally, the top keywords of the day are great for just browsing the Internet.

 

 

Search.IO

How to use

Search.io is very similar to Joongel. It allows you to search a variety of search engines within specific categories that you can choose. The homepage is very simple, with a drop-down menu to choose the category you want to search in, and then a search box where you can enter your query.

Once you type in your query and click search, the results come up in a similar format to Joongel, with different tabs to switch between search engines. With Search.io, you can very easily switch between tabs by using the “Alt” key (“option” on Macs) and the number of the tab you want to switch to, which is listed on each tab. This makes it really easy to switch back and forth between results, which makes it easier to compare the results provided by each search engine.

When you want to create a new search, or just switch to a new category with the same search, you can use the toolbar at the top of the screen. One interesting feature that Search.io has is the “Latest Searches” link. This allows you to see recent searches that have been conducted by other people, which is useful if you’re bored or just browsing. The searches aren’t always interesting, but if more people used the website there would be more frequent and fascinating searches to explore.

Also similar to Joongel, some of the search engines featured don’t work on Search.io. It’s important to note that Search.io doesn’t feature all of the same search engines as Joongel, and doesn’t feature Google for any of its search categories except News (and even then the Google results page just displays a blank screen).

Author’s Note: This has nothing to do with using the site, but it’s worth noting that Search.io is for sale.

Comparison with Google Web search

As stated in the Joongel section, Joongel was only useful when it included Google’s results. As mentioned above, Search.io doesn’t use Google for any of its categories except for the News category, and even then the results don’t come up when you click on the Google tab. Because of this, Search.io is not useful when compared to Google, unless you know that you don’t want to see or use Google’s results.

How to get the most out of it

There is no option to log in, nor are there any special features that offer personalization for the user on Search.io. There is a button that says “Multiple Searches,” but I was unable to figure out how to use it, and there’s no Help section on the site to explain it. The best feature on the website to make it easier to use is the “Alt” key feature to move between tabs that I explained above.

Recommendation

All of these sites have situations in which they would be useful, and situations in which they wouldn’t. If you’re looking for a variety of results from a variety of different sites, you should use Joongel, as long as the category/ies you’re using include Google’s results. If they don’t include Google’s results, you’re better off sticking with Google.

Between Search.io and Joongel, it’s partially a matter of personal preference, since the search engines each site uses are different. Unfortunately Search.io doesn’t include Google in its selection of search engines. The only real advantage Search.io has over Joongel is that it gives the user the ability to more easily switch between tabs using the keyboard.  The results from Joongel are better. It also has more categories than Search.io, and is generally more comprehensive. Therefore, between Joongel and Search.io, Joongel is the better choice.

If you’re looking for a fun experience using search engines, Soovle is the way to go. On Soovle you only get results from one search engine, not 7-10 as with Joongel and Search.io. If you only want results from one search engine, it’s better to just go with that engine, be it Google, Yahoo, or whichever you prefer. Otherwise, Soovle is just a longer way to get to the same results.

Bottom Line:

With all of that being said, Google is still the best choice. If you want to see and directly compare the results of a variety of search engines, use Joongel. If you’re struggling to think of more specific or new queries about a general topic, use Soovle. For everything else, use Google.

Appendix

The chapter refers to the following sites:

License

Unified interface for separate search engines Copyright © 2013 by Austin Ruby. All Rights Reserved.

Feedback/Errata

3 Responses to Unified interface for separate search engines

  1. eligwol on December 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm says:

    The main, overarching, issue that I see with your presentation is the lack of pictures. Sure, you can get by without the pictures, but it makes your descriptions and other writing require more work, and is therefore more confusing in most instances. I mean, each section definitely could use pictures of the homepage for each site as well as search results. Maybe even try the same query on each site to show the similarities and differences of each engine.

    Ways you could put in screen shots and other images effectively:
    1. Use the homepage logo at the beginning of the respective sections to give the reader an association of the site with the logo.
    2. Show the drop down menus and things you mention in the chapter by showing the screen shots of yourself actually using the features.
    3. Take a picture of the search results and what the interface looks like so people can get an even better understanding of the sites.
    4. Especially for Soovle, show the way the site uses the other websites and offers search suggestions right on the homepage.
    5. If you happen to run into an error, show what the error page looks like.

    You said “messed up” in the 3rd paragraph of “how to use” which is ok, but maybe try using something more professional.

    If you could go in depth about the specific features about Joongel it would make that section more complete. As of now, it you don’t really describe much that is specific to the site, and if there isn’t anything in particular just say that earlier in your chapter.

    Can you explain more in depth why it doesn’t always include Google results?

    Your Soovle explanation was a lot better. Probably because you like it more.

    The last paragraph of the how to use section for Soovle can definitely be expanded on, and it needs a conclusion.

    You have a run on sentence to start the second paragraph of the How to get the most out of it section on Soovle

    It would be helpful if you expanded on how search.io and joongel are similar.

    Are you assuming that Google is the best by far?

    Do these sites ever make the process faster?

  2. rcreddy on December 3, 2012 at 2:07 am says:

    Solid writing on the chapter. Here are my thoughts on each specific category

    Formatting: Very clean easy to follow. Organized

    Writing:

    1) Capitalize Joongel.com at the start of the chapter

    2) Soovle, How to use: “If 7 search engines isn’t enough…” (aren’t enough)

    Links/Images: Here’s the issue. You have none. Images will go a long way in helping to clarify all of these tools to the reader. It provides a visual of the interface and the steps you are taking. Basically use the criteria that the critique above me gave you. He’s got the right idea.

    Informs/Content/Analysis: Questions you could address.

    1. When you talk about Joongel, you say that the links are broken most of the time. My question is why should someone even bother? If you’re just recommending it based on the inclusion of Google results, why not just go to Google?

    2. What other search engines are on Joongel? An image could just explain this.

    3. Are you actually going to recommend one of these tools to the reader? You kind of flip flop between Joongel and Soovle. Pick one and stick with it. I realize each has its own downside/lack of functionality, but you have to be the expert here.

    4. Is there a benefit of using these three tools over the other major search engines? For instance, if I have been a Bing user my entire life (heaven forbid), why should I pick Joogel/Soovle/Search.Io?

    Those are just some thoughts.

    Length: Good

  3. plockrow on December 4, 2012 at 8:41 am says:

    INTRODUCTION
    This is a very wel-written post. You did a great job explaining each different site and went in depth about the features that are available. Overall, I would say great job on keeping it concise and informative.

    One big concern I have however is the lack of images and links. First off, it would be very helpful to have links to the three search engines in the Introduction section. Even more importantly, however, is the lack of screen shots and images in the content of the chapter.

    These are extremely difficult sites to explain solely verbally and this is mostly due to their complex interface. In the final posting it would be awesome to see a ton of images. It is very hard to understand the workings of these sites without them.

    The following are my recommendations for changes in your book sections.

    1: JOONGLE
    a. The biggest problem I see here is the lack of links and images. It is important for the reader to be able to fully understand what you are talking about by visualizing it.
    – It would be nice to see the interface on the page. Also, you consistently refer to the toolbar and this is something that I would not be able to comprehend without actually visiting the site.
    – This also makes it important to link your site. Otherwise, not only can they not visualize it but there is no way for the reader to access it quickly.

    b. You explain how queries can get “messed up.” I would go into a little more detail about what you mean by this. Why does this occur? How can you fix it? Why does the technique you describe fix it? These are all questions I had about this aspect of the site.

    c. Formatting wise, I think it would be nice if you broke down the process. For example you could write it this way:

    First Step: Search using the query section
    Second Step: Choose Category of Specified Search Engine

    Also, a bulleted list of the 10 different search engines would be a great addition to this section.

    d: You explain the categories that Joongel uses. What are these categories exactly? It would be great to see a bulleted list of this as well.

    2: SOOVLE
    a. You NEED a graphic for this site. Otherwise it is almost impossible to explain simply using words.

    b. You talk about how it is fun to play around with. I would format this aspect into sections. Especially, because this is a big reason for why this met-search tool is so unique. Some suggestions would be:

    – Selecting the search engine
    – Switching to a different search engine
    – Customizing Search Engines

    b. How do the search results change as you type in your query? Is it giving you related searches or most used searches. Make sure to explain the inner workings of the site when you explain using it.

    c. Another bulleted list would be helpful in this section. For the tools you can create a list including; the dragging feature, star feature, Web Keywords and related search engines. This would help the formatting and skim value.

    *** To reiterate: It is necessary to include pictures for this site. This is not easy to explain and without links and videos the reader will feel lost. Let them visualize these unique and fun features of Soovel.

    Comparison of Google Web Search
    a: Break this section down. Talk about why you would use Soovle instead of Google in one and in another talk about the reasons for using Google.

    How to get the most out of it
    a: The first section is great. However, I think you could expand on the second section of this. It would be great if you included reasons for why one search engine is better than another. How can the search suggestions help you? Could you provide an analysis for this? Lastly, go into more detail about the bookmarks section and the top keywords of the day. These are very cool factors of Soovle that should be shown visually with a test query.

    b. I would definitely include other cool features of this site. For example, you never talked about the “secrets,” “demo,” or “download aspect of the site.

    3: SEARCH.IO
    a. This is very similar to Soovle so a screen shot would allow you to cut out the lengthy desciption.

    b. Break this section down. Do not only compare it to google (especially because you already did a similar comparison with Soovle) but talk about the additional features and make sure that it is clear what they do. Using a bulleted list for these capabilities would also be very beneficial.

    c. Also, it would be great to include the aspects of the Soovle that are not in the in the interface of Search.IO. This would help the reader fully understand when to use each of the given meta-search engines.

    OVERALL
    I did really enjoy this chapter. Just make sure to include a lot of images in the final book. Other then that though, you had great context, you had a thorough analysis and you really seem to understand the workings of the site. Great job!

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