Ixquick [meta-search engine]
Summary: Overall, I find the Ixquick metasearch engine to be a cut above many other metasearch engines for general/topical searches. However, I also evaluate it on 9 criteria and note areas in which it could improve.
AUTHOR & PUBLISHER
Surfboard Holding B.V.
3700 BB Zeist
Ixquick was founded in 1998 and bought by a Dutch company in 2000. I question its stability, as it has only 11 employees (including the founder, David Bodnick) in the entire company. Presumably, it is funded by the Google sponsored ads it displays on search result pages - which may be enough to support a company of 11 employees. Ixquick was just awarded the first (and, so far, only) European Privacy seal by a cross-EU organization, but I cannot find any reviews about this metasearch engine, and it's early 2000s web design is a clear indicator of insufficient resources and poor organization.
It gives a copyright of 2008 at the bottom of the web site about Ixquick. Hard to tell what this signifies, though, in terms of when the search engine itself was last updated. Seems to indicate that only the press/about web site was updated in 2008 - not the program itself.
The stated purpose of this engine is to offer you privacy (it deletes your IP address and cookies after 48 hours), in addition to more comprehensive and accurate metasearch results. This metasearch engine searches the following web sites: All the Web; Exalead; Qkport; Ask/Teoma; Gigablast; Wikipedia; Bebo; MSN; Winzy; CNN Search; NBC; Yahoo; EntireWeb; and Open Directory. I find it interesting that Google - the top search engine - is not included in its metasearch, but only in its revenue generating ads. Ixquick uses blinkx to search videos and has an unremarkable image search capability as well. Its international phone directory search is the most unique coverage that it offers.
With its offices split between New York and the Netherlands, this is a relatively international search engine, with interfaces for approximately 18 different languages, including a number of European and Asian languages. The results are more accurate than a sampling of results from a few main competitor metasearches, as Ixquick seems particularly good at de-duplicating its concatenated results. As with all metasearches, however, this will only be good for a broad, general search and likely not helpful for a more specific search.
4. ARRANGEMENT OF INFORMATION
The search results page displays the top 3 Google sponsored ads (should they exist) for your search at the top of the page and then the top results from their 14 search engines according to the highest number of those engines in which this link was a top result. The number of stars beside each result indicates how many of the 14 engines had this particular link in their top results. The basic search interface searches by keywords. The power and expert search interfaces add additional access points (see #14, Special Features), but these interfaces are VERY hard to stumble upon. The tiny "Power Search" text above the Search button is not noticeable and does not clearly indicate that it leads to another interface.
Given that the site search other search engines, it is as up-to-date as those sources are, which is very up to date (it even includes CNN for the 24-hour news version of up-to-date).
6. FORMAT & PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
This online resource searches text, images, video, and phone numbers. It's initial search box is clear and easy to use (very Google-esque). However, its search results display page, while clean, has too little differentiation between the sponsored ads and the search results and the text font (Tahoma) is an ugly font not best suited to the web. The use of stars to indicate ranking for the result entries is a helpful visual clue, although the use of more than 5 (the standard number of ranking stars) could be confusing. The inclusion of a very contrastingly-colored branding box and a banner of its most recent award at the top distracts from the results and, in fact, take up most of the "above the fold" real estate of the search results page.
The site loads quickly, but its stability is questionable. Although it has existed since 1998 and claims that "in 2004 we handled over 120 million searches," Ixquick nonetheless acknowledges InfoSpace as having "the lion's share of the metasearch market". Ixquick currently has 11 employees in the whole company and, as a private company does NOT report financials, so I've no idea how it's doing financially. The use of sponsored ads from Google may mean that Ixquick does well enough to provide continued support for those 11 employees and the company as a whole.
8. SPECIAL FEATURES
Ability to search: (1) the text of the web, (2) an international phone directory, (3) video on the web, or (4) pictures on the web. It's international phone directory is especially savvy as none of the major search engines does this very well yet and it is a commonly-needed function for general searchers. Ixquick deduplicates very well (other metasearch engines often give me duplicate pages from their concatenation of multiple search engine results). Ixquick's Power Search gives some Boolean options and their Expert Search gives field-specific search options for title, url, hyperlink, domain name, and a sophisticated domain name type option (.edu, .gov, etc.). The blinkx video search allows you to narrow video types by news, business, sports, entertainment, or community videos, a definite plus above Google. Ixquick's key claim to fame, however, is their commitment to the privacy of their users.
Free, except for putting up with annoying ads (as on almost every other meta-search engine).