Search the Invisible Web: 20 Free Resources

Expand your searches to these deep web resources

Woman wearing mixed reality smartglasses raising her hand
Westend61 / Getty Images

Unlike pages on the visible web (the web that you can access using search engines and directories), information in the invisible web is not visible to the software spiders and crawlers that create search engine indexes. Since this information makes up the vast majority of available content on the web, you are potentially missing out on some pretty amazing resources. That's where invisible web search engines, tools, and directories come in. Many invisible web search tools access the wealth of information that is the invisible web. Here are 20 search engines, directories, and databases you can use to uncover an astounding amount of content. 

01
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Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive database offers access to movies, text materials, and audio.

 Jerri Collins

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine holds a vast number of webpages. As part of the nonprofit Internet Archive, the Wayback Machine has more than 20 years of web history and webpages archived and accessible to everyone, including more than 330 billion webpages, 11 million books, and millions of audio recordings, concerts, videos, television news programs, and images—in addition to more than 100,000 software programs.

02
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USA.gov

USA.gov is the US Government's collection of databases that contain all manner of information.

 Jerri Collins

USA.gov is a mammoth search engine and portal that gives the searcher direct access to a wide variety of information and databases from the U.S. government, state governments, and local governments. USA.gov includes access to the Library of Congress, an A-Z government agency index, the Smithsonian, and much more.

03
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The WWW Virtual Library

The WWW Virtual Library

 Jerri Collins

The WWW Virtual Library gives you instant access to hundreds of different categories and databases on a wide variety of subjects ranging from agriculture to international affairs. The site claims that the WWW Virtual Library is the oldest catalog of the web, started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of HTML and of the web itself, in 1991 at CERN in Geneva.

It is run by volunteers, who compile pages of links for particular areas in which they have expertise. The Virtual Library pages are among the highest-quality guides to specific sections of the web.

04
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Science.gov

Science.gov--USA.gov-for-Science---Government-Science-Portal.png

 Jerri Collins

Science.gov searches over 60 databases and more than 2,200 selected websites from 15 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information, including research and development results. 

Science.gov is an interagency initiative of 19 U.S. government science organizations. These agencies form the voluntary Science.gov alliance, which governs Science.gov.

05
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Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha Computational Knowledge Engine

 Jerri Collins

Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine, which means it stores a vast amount of pure data available to you by search and by a question-and-answer format.

Wolfram Alpha aims to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything.

06
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The National Security Archive

The National Security Archive at George Washington University is home to a treasure trove of declassified documents, papers, and other primary-source materials on subjects related to U.S. national security, foreign policy, intelligence policy, and diplomatic and military history.

The site was founded in 1985 and is home to more than 50 years of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. 

07
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Alexa

Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web

 Jerri Collins

Alexa and Amazon.com company give you specific analytical information about web properties. Alexa gathers much of its traffic data from direct sources in the form of sites that chose to install the Alexa script on their site to certify their metrics.

The traffic estimates are based on data from a global traffic panel, which is a sample of millions of internet users using one of over 25,000 different browser extensions.

Website owners especially can benefit from the data that Alexa offers; for example, here's a list of the top 500 sites on the Web

08
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Directory of Open Access Journals

Directory of Open Access Journals

 Jerri Collins

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) indexes and provides access to quality open-access, peer-reviewed journals. More than 10,000 journals and millions of articles are searchable using the DOAJ. 

The Directory of Open Access Journals indexes research journals, periodicals, and their articles' metadata. The DOAJ aims to be comprehensive and cover all open-access scientific and scholarly journals that use an appropriate quality control system. The directory's goal is to increase the visibility and ease of use of open-access scientific and scholarly journals—regardless of size and country of origin.

09
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The Online Books Page

The Online Books Page Search

 Jerri Collins

The Online Books Page, a service offered by the University of Pennsylvania, gives readers access to more than two million books freely accessible (and readable) on the internet. Users also gain access to significant directories and archives of online texts, as well as special exhibits of particularly interesting classes of online books. 

10
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The Library of Congress

Library of Congress Home

Jerri Collins

One of the most vivid and interactive sites on this list of Invisible web resources, the Library of Congress offers an incredibly rich and varied array of content. Collection highlights include congressional records, digital preservation resources, the Veterans History Project, and the World Digital Library.

According to the site, "The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections."

11
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Census.gov

International Programs People and Households

 Jerri Collins

If you're looking for data, then Census.gov is one of the first places you'll want to visit. From geography to population statistics, you'll be able to find them on this website.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts demographic, economic, and geographic studies and strengthens statistical development around the world through technical assistance, training, and software products.

For more than 60 years, the Census Bureau has performed international analytical work and assisted in the collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and use of statistics with counterpart governments in over 100 countries.

12
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Copyright.gov

U.S. Copyright Office

 Jerri Collins

Copyright.gov is another U.S. government resource you can put in your invisible web search toolbox. Here, you can view works registered and documents recorded by the U.S. Copyright Office since January 1, 1978, as well as search records of registered books, music, art, periodicals, and other works, including copyright ownership documents.

13
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Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

Entire CGP Catalog

 Jerri Collins

The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications gives users instant access to electronic and print publications from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. government, with more than 500,000 records generated since July 1976. 

14
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PubMed

PubMed Home Page

 Jerri Collins

PubMed, part of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, is the perfect resource for anyone who's looking up medical or medical-related information. It offers more than 24 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. 

15
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FAA Data and Research

The FAA website is a great place to find aviation research.

 Jerri Collins

The FAA Data and Research pages offer information on how FAA research is done, the resulting data and statistics, and information on funding and grant data. Anything from aviation safety to unruly passengers (seriously) can be found here. 

16
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DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo searches both the regular web and the deep web without saving any of your personal information or your search results. DuckDuck Go blocks advertising trackers to keep your search history private.

Although DuckDuckGo resembles other web browsers, this search engine is fully capable of performing advanced searches on the deep web. 

17
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FindLaw

Find legal information on the FindLaw website.

 Jerri Collins

FindLaw is a gigantic repository of free legal information on the internet, and it offers one of the largest online lawyer directories available. You can use FindLaw to locate an attorney, learn more about U.S. law and legal topics, and participate in the active FindLaw community forums. 

18
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The Louvre

Selected Works of the Louvre-Museum

 Jerri Collins

The Louvre online begs to be discovered and cherished by art lovers all over the world. View thematic collections of art, get more information about the background of selected works, and view art aligned with historical events.

19
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FreeLunch

Free Economic Data

 Jerri Collins

FreeLunch gives users quick access to free economic, demographic, and financial data. It provides comprehensive and extensive historical and forecast data at the national and subnational-regional levels representing over 93 percent of global GDP.

FreeLunch covers more than 180 countries, over 150 global metro areas, and all U.S. states, metro areas, and counties. The databases contain economic, financial, demographic, and consumer credit time series.

20
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Bankrate

Mortgage Rates Credit Cards

 Jerri Collins

Bankrate, an online financial resource that's been around since 1996, offers a huge library of financial information on current interest rates, mortgage lender reviews, ARMs, articles on CUSIP, and much more.