How to Mine the Invisible Web: The Ultimate Guide

Search and discover untapped invisible web resources

Man in boat looking through spyglass
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The Invisible Web refers to the vast amount of content and information that is not easily discoverable in a general search engine query, such as databases, private networks, or password-protected information. However, there are a wide variety of high-quality Invisible Web search tools, search engines, and directories that can help you mine this fantastic resource that is considered to be at least 500 times larger than the visible web.

The following Invisible Web resources will connect you to a virtual goldmine of knowledge, anything from medical dictionaries to moving picture archives to academically vetted articles and journals. Each of these links connects you to a resource that will help you find information that is not easily found with just a simple, rudimentary search. These tools help you do a deep dive into untapped treasure troves of information. 

The Invisible Web: A Brief Introduction

The Invisible Web: What is the Invisible Web? Is it some kind of Area 52-ish, X-Files deal that only those with stamped numbers on their foreheads can access? Well, not exactly. If you're not familiar with what the Invisible Web really is, just keep reading to get a quick overview of what the Invisible Web really is, and how you can use it to find information. 

Invisible Web Search Engines

  • Five Search Engines You Can Use to Mine the Invisible Web: There are many Invisible Web search tools that you can use to dive into this wealth of information, as you'll see from the following list.....keep reading to understand what these search engines can offer you.
  • The Top Ten Most Popular Search Engines can be used as a jumping off point for much of the web's harder to find information. 
  • FactBites: Factbites retrieves results that are academically oriented, i.e., dictionaries, encyclopedias, universities, and many .org sites (typically non-profit organizations).

Invisible Web Directories and Portals

  • Invisible Web Directories: Many individuals and institutions have put together Invisible Web directories, which you can use as a jumping off point to surf the Invisible Web. 
  • Medical Information on the Invisible Web: The Invisible Web has a goldmine of medical databases and specialized medical sites that just don't show up on a cursory search in the search engines. Best of all, this information is free.
  • Humanities and Literature Resources on the Invisible Web: There are plenty of humanities resources on the Invisible Web, such as arts, literature, and history web sites that will give you greater insight on what you might be reading for a class or help you on a research project.

Invisible Web Research Databases and Reference Tools

  • 47 Alternatives to Wikipedia: Wikipedia is perhaps the most popular reference site online, with millions of high-quality articles available on virtually any topic. However, there are limits to what Wikipedia can offer.
  • How to Find Archives on the Web: Are you trying to find information about a historical event? Looking for online archives for news, music, popular culture, or movie information?
  • Google Scholar: From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts, and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations.

Find People with the Invisible Web

Use the Invisible Web to Find Public Records

Books and Printed Materials on the Invisible Web