If you know a thing or two about the dark web, you should already be aware of the impossibility of using a search engine. It's not like you can find Google, Bing, or other search engines on the dark web, giving you links to various websites and marketplaces.
Instead, dark web sites rely on the .onion extension and their names are a mix of random letters and numbers. To go on a website or enter a market, you need to know precisely its address or you can’t get in, simple as that.
Now, how do you find these websites? From many points of view, it feels like a closed group of people. Here are a few ways.
How to find dark websites
Google, for instance, browses the Internet one page at a time with its crawlers and indexes them. Such spiders practically crawl throughout pages and index content. A search for the respective content will display it as a result.
The dark web has a similar way to index markets, but then, these websites can't be found through Google, or at least not in a direct manner.
There are, indeed, a few search engines for the dark web, but they won’t display basic results based on your search terms.
Most people find markets or websites based on their popularity. There are portals out there compiling lists of reputable markets. There are also forums or discussion boards introducing users to reputable websites. The good news is such links can be accessed with regular browsers too. Not the dark web links though.
The Hidden Wiki is an excellent portal for new dark web users. It’s one of the top recommendations for newbies, but it’s not very well maintained. That means you should be cautious about the websites and links listed there. Some of them are scams, others are fake.
You’ll find links for marketplaces, social networks, forums and so on. Be cautious about websites providing financial services, such as crypto investments or digital wallets.
Haystak has a self-explanatory name. It aims to find anything in a massive haystack. According to its own description, it has links to over 1.5 billion websites on the dark web, but no one’s really counted anything, so you may not always find what you’re after.
Haystak also aims to filter dangerous or scam results. Again, search results could be a bit dodgy, as it works differently from popular search engines.
Torch is one of the popular search engines for the dark web and obviously has its own result display mechanisms too. For example, if you look for Facebook, it won’t display the actual link, but links to forums or discussion boards about it, as well as illicit marketplaces for Facebook accounts.
Torch is the perfect example that search engines on the dark web shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Dark.Fail offers access to some of the most legitimate onion websites on the dark web. It offers access to a plethora of different links. Run anonymously by a journalist, it aims to filter websites that could lead to phishing problems, among other common scams.
Ahmia.fi is available on the clear net, but it's also accessible on the dark web. It's one of the most reputable search tools available for this network, providing vital links based on your actual search terms. Results will always be mixed though.
At the end of the day, not every address can be searched or discovered on the dark web. If you use it on the clear net, you can simply copy the onion links and use Tor to visit them.
Not Evil is the perfect alternative to Torch. If Torch fails to return what you’re after, give this one a try. The portal is based on two reputable websites, a Tor search engine and a listing website.
The best part about Not Evil is it returns more official links. If you’re after the onion link of Facebook, a simple search will take you there.
Onion Links is another listing website that will give direct links to dark websites. It has an impressive list of services and links, covering pretty much anything you can think of.
But just like The Hidden Wiki, links are not thoroughly checked, so be careful when joining them.
Real World Onion Sites
This hub is updated on a regular basis and more importantly, it’s checked on a regular basis, so dead links are removed. It offers links to all kinds of services. It’s primarily focused on legit websites to help new dark web users.
The bottom line, a proper search engine doesn't really exist for the dark web. Instead, most links you'll find are listed on a few websites that simply became more popular than others. Other than that, word of mouth is probably the best way to find the services or products you’re after.