6 powerful search engines help you find the best results

Moving your newsletter into the digital age
Moving your newsletter into the digital age

Have you ever sat down to find something you know is on the Internet only to find your Google search results lacking? It happens all the time because while Google is the industry leader, it focuses on serving the masses. Sometimes you need a more specialized search engine to find the information you need. Next time you hit a dead end in your Google results, try one of these great alternative search engines.


1. Dogpile

When you need a broader search, enter your terms into dogpile.com. Dogpile is known as a meta search engine. Instead of scouring the net and compiling that data, Dogpile runs your search on leading search engines like Google and Yahoo!, piles results on top of each other, combs through them, eliminates duplicates and presents the best options from all the different engines.

2. Wolfram Alpha

If you are looking for historical data or trends, look to Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha calls itself a computational knowledge engine that takes searching one step further than the average search engine. Instead of returning pages, it tries to return information. To get an idea of the results it returns, simply put in a first name and it will return various data points such as when it was most popular, the likely age of people with that name and the like. Putting in your church’s ZIP code will return racial demographics, educational statistics, income information, average house cost, number of businesses, local weather and so forth. When you are looking for data, you can often skip reading several articles on different sites by taking a moment to look at the results on Wolfram Alpha.

3. Twitter

If you are seeking information on a news story happening in real time, start with Twitter. More and more, news breaks first on Twitter. With its millions of users constantly updating their status in a couple of sentences, Twitter is the perfect place to get information on current events. Even before the major news outlets have a story, a quick search of Twitter will likely turn up a handful of articles that have been published as well as many firsthand accounts. Beyond breaking news, Twitter is becoming a better search engine in general as people continue to increase the amount of pictures, links and musings.

4. SlideShare

If you’re searching for the slides to the presentation you just saw or the bullet points on any topic, SlideShare is the perfect place to begin. Since being bought by LinkedIn, SlideShare has become one of the top 100 most-visited sites on the Internet. It is just what its name implies: a repository of slide decks on any topic you can imagine and quite possibly, from the seminar you just attended. Whether or not your church has decided if it should be Linkedin, using its SlideShare search tool is a no-brainer.

5. CC Search

If you want great stock photography that you can reuse online, start by looking through CC search. Many websites have free media to use under certain conditions with a Creative Commons license. Rather than going to different sites that offer Creative Commons content, you can search many of the largest libraries at once. Whether you’re looking for an audio sample, a video clip or a great image, you can find them all at CC Search.

Pixabay is one of the libraries in CC Search. It has a HUGE selection of stock photography and a great search tool. All of their images fall under the CC0 license, which means they are in the public domain. Feel free to modify images and use them in any context without attribution.

Other excellent CC0 stock photography sites:

  • Freely focuses on churches
  • Unsplah has an amazing collection of photography
  • Pexels has a large library and truly inspiring

Free Audio libraries

6. United Methodist Media Library

Did you know the United Methodist Media Library has images available for church, conference and agency use? We have amazing media depicting church life, nature and stock photography! All media has a credit field and specifies what to include in the credit line. Learn more about the United Methodist Media Library, register and start downloading today!

It’s important to understand that photos with identifiable people in them are “editorial” photos. Take special care in reusing editorial content in any story that could have a negative interpretation. You wouldn’t want to show an identifiable person to illustrate a story on domestic violence, racism or corruption.

“Stock” photos are intentionally generic in order to serve multiple uses and usually do not include identifiable people, unless a model has agreed to the terms. The United Methodist Media Library has some BEAUTIFUL stock photos of sunsets, flowers, inspirational scenes from nature and much more. Include the keywords “illustration” or “stock” in your search to include these types of images in results.

United Methodist Communications is striving to expand its stock images, so if you wish to contribute, please send your best images to Kathleen Barry, manager of digital assets.

Other great UMC media sources:



Whether you are looking for images or demographics, or just need to break out of the standard Google results, these alternative search engines are a great place to start. What are some of your favorites?


When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Ala. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at JeremyWords.com or follow him on Twitter!

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