Whatever you're searching for on the internet, there's more to life than Google. We've explored dozens of search engines, and crowned the best in several different categories. Our search-engine shootout reveals all.

Not many brands become verbs. Those that do are generally in positions of total market dominance – witness Nielsen/NetRatings' January 07 report, which found more than half of web searches in the US that month were 'Googled'. The second most popular engine, Yahoo Search, got less than half of Google's traffic.

But does Google deserve its success or is the company living off its reputation? Are people using Google because they're not aware of other, potentially better, search engines? To find out, we pitted Google against its big-name competitors, Yahoo and Microsoft Live Search, as well as smaller challengers such as AltaVista and Ask.com. We also looked at two dozen specialist search tools.

Google, it turns out, is very good. But it's not the best choice for text searches, which are the most popular kind. Even so, we were impressed by the accuracy, breadth and speed of the search results returned by the three top contenders.

Our tests included a good look at each search-engine's performance when asked to unearth specific types of result, such as a video, image, news story or blog. Along the way we discovered several useful tools that can help you go beyond the basics of search.

And competition was fierce. With rival firms implementing innovative tools and interfaces that enhance the user experience and deliver more relevant information, Google needs to stay on its toes.

Quick links:

Web search: Is Google still the number 1 search engine?

Web search: Image and blog searches

Web search: Competition and innovation

Web search: Relativity

Web search: Human insight

Web search: Google's secret ingredient

Web search: The future of search

Web search: Top search tips