Google -- the undisputed king of 'spartan searching'. While it doesn't offer all the shopping center features of Yahoo!, Google is fast, relevant, and the largest single catalogue of Web pages available today. Make sure you try the Google 'images', 'maps' and 'news' features... they are outstanding services for locating photos, geographic directions, and news headlines. Try Google Advanced for a search where you can limit by site or domain (i.e. just "YouTube" or just ".gov"), file types (i.e. just ".jpg"), or by reading level. Try Google Scholar for a search of academic-only resources. Want a different type of search? Try some of these other search engines...
Ask -- The Ask/AJ/Ask Jeeves search engine is a longtime name in the World Wide Web. The super-clean interface rivals the other major search engines, and the search options are as good as Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo. The results groupings are what really make Ask.com stand out. The presentation is arguably cleaner and easier to read than Google or Yahoo! or Bing, and the results groups seem to be more relevant. Decide for yourself...
Bing -- Bing is Microsoft's attempt at unseating Google. Bing used to be MSN search until it was updated in summer of 2009. Touted as a 'decision engine', Bing tries to support your researching by offering suggestions in the leftmost column, while also giving you various search options across the top of the screen. Things like 'wiki' suggestions, 'visual search', and 'related searches' might be very useful to you.
Dogpile -- Years ago, Dogpile was the fast and efficient choice before Google. Things changed, Dogpile faded into obscurity, and Google became king. But today, Dogpile is coming back, with a growing index and a clean and quick presentation. If you want to try a search tool with pleasant presentation and helpful crosslink results, definitely try Dogpile.
DuckDuckGo -- At first, DuckDuckGo.com looks like Google. But there are many subtleties that make this spartan search engine different. First, DuckDuckGo won't track your IP address or archive your search results--giving you a bit more privacy. DuckDuckGo also has some slick features, like 'zero-click' information (all your answers are found on the first results page). DuckDuckgo offers prompts to help you clarify the question you are really asking. Give DuckDuckGo.com a try...
The Internet Archive -- a favorite destination for longtime Web lovers. The Archive has been taking snapshots of the entire World Wide Web for years now, allowing you and me to travel back in time to see what a web page looked like in 1999, or what the news was like around Hurricane Katrina in 2005. You won't visit the Archive daily, like you would Google or Yahoo or Bing, but when you do have need to travel back in time, use this search site.
StartPage -- Formally known as "Ixquick," StartPage does NOT record your IP address. When you search with StartPage search engine, you are searching many popular search engines simultaneously and anonymously. Combined, these engines cover more of the Internet than any one search engine alone.
SweetSearch -- a search engine for students. It searches only the 35,000 web sites that a team of research experts, teachers, and librarians have evaluated and approved. SweetSearch helps students find outstanding information, faster. It enables them to locate the most relevant results from a list of credible resources, and makes it much easier for them to find primary sources. Excluded are not only obvious spam sites, but also marginal sites that read well, but lack academic or journalistic rigor. As importantly, the very best web sites that are often buried on other search engines appear on the first page of SweetSearch results.
Webopedia -- an encyclopedic resource dedicated to searching techno terminology and computer definitions. Teach yourself what 'domain name system' is, or teach yourself what 'DDRAM' means on your computer. Webopedia is absolutely a perfect resource for non-technical people to make more sense of the computers around them.
Yahoo! -- it's a search engine, a news aggregator, a stock market tracker, a shopping center, an emailbox, a travel directory, a horoscope and games center, and more. If you want a little of everything, this is the place.
Yippy -- formerly known as "Clusty," Yippy searches the Deep Web pages that are usually harder to locate by conventional search. If you are searching for obscure hobby interest blogs, obscure government information, tough-to-find obscure news, academic research and otherwise-obscure content, then Yippy is your tool.