Vivisimo is a capable metasearch engine, serving results from multiple engines simultaneously. Dig a bit deeper and you'll find some powerful, unique features not found elsewhere on the web.
Most meta search engines send your query to multiple other search engines simultaneously, then select the top ranking pages and blend them into a result set. Vivisimo does that, but it also compiles and presents "clustered results," categorized groupings of results organized by conceptually related topics.
Clustered results are especially useful when you're searching for something unfamiliar, and aren't sure which keywords will produce the optimal results. The results are grouped into successively narrower subcategories, allowing you to drill down through a topic without additional searching.
Another cool feature Vivisimo offers is a "preview" link for each search result. This opens up a window displaying a glimpse of a web page right in the middle of the result page, making it easy to quickly scan results without leaving the result page.
While these features alone make Vivisimo a worthy tool, they're just the tip of the iceberg.
Check out Vivisimo's advanced search page, and you'll find a whole array of useful tools. Most notably, you'll see check boxes that allow you to include results from search engines and web sites not offered by other meta search engines.
For example, you can choose to search news sites such as CNN, the NY Times, USA Today, Reuters, BBC News and others. You can also include results from specialized search engines, such as US government portal FirstGov, Business.com, Britannica.com, eBay, PubMed and the patent search engine at Delphion.
While including these sources in a meta search can often help results, here's a tip to sharpen your results even more. Deselect all search sources except for one or two that you think may have specific information you're looking for. Then use the clustered results to browse for information that might otherwise be buried in thousands of standard results.
For example, select only FirstGov to search for US government information. Querying both Business.com and the Delphion patent server can be useful for competitive intelligence. Selecting eBay only and using a product name as a keyword gives you a very different look at what's for sale than using the bidding site's own engine.
Vivisimo's advanced search provides 200 search results -- if you want more, you can set it to 300 or 500 results at a time.
Vivisimo's business in large part is supported by selling its clustering engine technology, both to online portals and to large corporations government agencies, among others. To show potential customers how the technology works, Vivisimo offers a very interesting collection of clustering engine demos that can be exceptionally useful for searchers looking for specialized information.
There are dozens of other demos, in categories such as news, shopping, science and engineering, universities, and others. The links on the left side of every demo page provide access to all categories.
Vivisimo is a good choice if you want to use a meta search engine, but a little digging beneath the surface reveals some absolute gems for searching specialized information sources.
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.
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