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Dogpile

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Dogpile - Supersearch
Andrew*/Flikr/CC BY 2.0

What is Dogpile?

Dogpile is a meta search engine, meaning that it gets results from multiple search engines and directories and then presents them combined to the user. Dogpile currently gets its results from Google, Yahoo, MSN Search, Ask , About, MIVA, LookSmart, and more.

According to Dogpile, their metasearch technology "can search 50% more of the Web than any single search engine", as evaulated by "Greg Notess, an independent search engine expert, verified our methodology and validated that our metasearch technology can retrieve 50% or more additional results."

Home Page

You'll see Arfie on the front page, and get used to seeing this little pooch along with cutesy dog sayings everywhere ("go fetch"on the toolbar, for example). The home page is relatively clean and uncluttered, with a good choice of colors. The search bar is squarely in the middle of the home page, with textual tab choices right on top of that. Below Arfie, there are links to the Toolbar, Joke of the Day (it's a popup), SearchSpy, a way to view either family-friendly or unfiltered real-time Web searches, Maps, Weather, and an option to add Dogpile Search to your site.

There's also Favorite Fetches, with what looks to be the top six most searched for queries at any one time, although this list didn't seem to be completely accurate (dog flu is a most searched for query?). I found Arfie's Most Wanted to be a better indicator of what was being searched for by the most people.

Searching with Dogpile

For my test Web search, I chose the term "landscaping", since that's on my mind these days. The search results page came back with combined results from the various search engines and directories that Dogpile pulls from, but there was another column to the right with the question "Are You Looking For..." that had MUCH better search queries and subsequently better results for a terraced back yard.

You'll notice buttons at the top of your search results, including "Best of All Search Engines", "Google", "Yahoo Search", "MSN Search", etc. Click on any of those buttons and your search results will now highlight items that are specifically from that search engine in a column to the right. Unfortunately, this took away my Suggested Searches, and the only way I could get it back was to backtrack to my original search query.

Now, why would you want to single out a particular search engine? Because search engines will return dramatically different results for the same search query, and once you start comparing the results here, you'll see what I mean.

Image Search

Dogpile's Image Search brought back fantastic results, including my favorite feature on the far right to suggest to me better search queries.

Audio and Video Search

Audio Search surprisingly enough did NOT return audio results for terracing a steep garden (aren't you shocked!), but when I truncated it to "garden", I received stellar results from Yahoo Search, SingingFish, and more. Most of these audio results have a quick thirty-second preview, but quite a few of them were available full-length. The Video Search is also powered by Yahoo Search, SingingFish, and more, and was similar to the Audio Search in previews and full-length results.

News Search

News Search was sortable by relevance and date, with search results returned from sources as varied as Fox News, ABC News, and Topix. The Yellow and White Pages searches are pretty standard, with fields to search by business name, individual name, etc. And throughout all these various searches (except for the Yellow and White Pages), the ubiquitous "Are You Looking For" feature was always there, steering me to better-worded search queries.

Meta Search Features

You're going to want to check out Dogpile's Comparison Engines demo, a nice and friendly introduction to how metasearch engines work, with a real-time Venn diagram to demonstrate how three different search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN; but you can switch these), retrieve results, and how few of them actually do overlap.

Advanced Search

Advanced Search gives you the option to narrow your searches by exact word phrases, language filters, date, domain filters, or adult filters. You also have the option to set your search preferences, with the ability to customize your default search settings.

A couple of things stood out here that I haven't noticed in other search tools: first, the "Bold Search Terms" option, that lets you "Use this to make your keyword(s) stand out on all results pages." There's also the ability to track and display your 15 most recent searches for those of us who might need a bit of help in the memory department.

In addition, you can learn how to search more efficiently with Tricks of the Trade, take a look at the Site Map, and last but definitely not least, check out the many moods of Arfie.

Toolbar

The Toolbar comes in Internet Explorer flavor only at this time. Some of the cool features of the Toolbar include a popup blocker, automatic News Ticker, and SearchSpy, "Watch scrolling terms to see what people are searching for in real-time."

Why Should I Use This Search Engine?

The ability to search several big search engines and directories at the same time is not only a time-saver, but it's fun to compare results. My personal favorite feature of Dogpile was the search suggestions, because quite frankly, the Suggestions were a lot better than what I came up with, and it was nice to get a hand up.

Note: Search engines change frequently, so the information in this article can and will get outdated as more information or features about meta search engine Dogpile are released. Be sure to check About Web Search for more updates as they become available.

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