How to Use the Invisible Web to Find People

Try these top people search sites to gather hard-to-find information

Illustration of a person using a tablet to use melissa, pipl, waybackmachine, zabasearch

Lifewire / Adrian Mangel

When you want to know how to find someone, the invisible web is a wonderfully detailed treasury of data, yielding information that generalized searches are not able to provide. The invisible web is a gold mine of information you can use to find someone, and because it is larger by far than the parts of the web you can access with a simple search engine query, it potentially has much more information available. 

You need specialized websites to delve deep into the invisible web. The top people-search sites for the invisible web listed here can make your people searches richer, more detailed, and authoritative.

Internet Archive Wayback Machine

wayback machine

What We Like

  • Archival images of 340 billion web pages.

  • Catalogs books, news articles, tweets, videos, and memes.

What We Don't Like

  • Contains only publicly accessible web pages and information.

  • Vast site is overwhelming.

If the person you're looking for has ever created a website or has information you know was on the web but has been since deleted, you can look that website up via the Wayback Machine, a database of over 340 billion pages archived from 1996 to the present.

This is a good way to view hard-to-find information, as screenshots of millions of websites – including many that are no longer live on the internet – have been archived here. 


Screenshot of the FamilySearch website.

What We Like

  • Over 1 billion unique profiles.

  • Search by name, place of birth or death, and birthday or death date.

  • Mobile apps.

What We Don't Like

  • Only one family tree per free account.

  • Strangers can view or change family trees.

FamilySearch, one of the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world, is primarily a genealogy tracker, which makes it an invaluable people search tool as well.

Type in as much information as you know, and FamilySearch returns birth and death records, parental information, and more. Digital preservation, digital conversion, general preservation of records, and online indexing is available here as well – all at no charge 


Screenshot of the Zabasearch website.

What We Like

  • Search by name with state or phone number.

  • Phone numbers and addresses in search results.

  • No registration required.

What We Don't Like

  • Sign in with Facebook for free advanced search.

  • Some users express privacy concerns.

Zabasearch is an extraordinarily effective invisible web people search engine. It pulls details from public records that include court records, country and state records, phone number listings, public transactions, voter registration records, and information that the individuals themselves put online.

This free service is somewhat controversial for the amount of information that it pulls in, but it is useful for those who are performing genealogy searches. 

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Full-Text Patent Database

New patent applications file folder used to find people who have applied for patents.
Getty Images

What We Like

  • Search for patents by name or term and field of specialty.

  • View or print full page PDFs of patents.

What We Don't Like

  • Search patents before 1976 by issue date, patent number, and U.S. classification.

  • Must have information about the patent for an effective search.

If the person you're looking for has ever filed for a patent, you'll find it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office full-text patent database. For patents filed from 1976 and beyond, you can see the inventor's name and the patent's title, as well as other pertinent information.



What We Like

  • Match rate and accuracy above industry standards.

  • Returns information more varied than found on similar sites.

What We Don't Like

  • Free version is limited.

  • Paid version is expensive.

Pipl is specifically designed to dive into the invisible web for information. It retrieves results from databases that don't come up in regular search engine queries, which makes it invaluable for people search tasks.

Location, age, and career are some of the information results that are retrieved here. Although Pipl still offers some information for free, it has altered its business model to include paid usage.

Melissa Free Lookups

Screenshot of Melissa Lookups website used to find people and properties.

What We Like

  • Interesting collection of search tools.

  • Useful tools to find information about people.

What We Don't Like

  • Must register for an account.

  • Charges for tiers of credits after monthly free credits are used.

Melissa Free Lookups website offers a wide range of free tools you can use to plumb the Invisible Web for people-search information. This site searches U.S. addresses, house numbers by ZIP code, IP location, names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and death information.

The website also includes information for people in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. screenshot

What We Like

  • Specializes in searches for people in the U.K.

  • Basic search requires only name and location.

  • Advanced people search available.

What We Don't Like

  • Does not list the source of the data.

  • Paid service provides only publicly available information. contains data on people, businesses and places in the U.K. You can find full names, addresses, age guides, property prices, aerial photos, company and director reports, family records, and corporate information here, all pulled from a number of sources on both the general and Invisible Web.