Thought I'd post this here for anyone who might want to check this out. Someone recently showed me this new-ish search engine out there called Clusty -- it's a product of Vivisimo, a company founded by some former Carnegie Mellon students.
It's sort of like the old Northern Light search - it takes your query, comes up with results, then groups them according to topics. You can then have it display results based on those topics. It doesn't index all the pages itself - it's a meta-engine, so it searches other search engines, then clusters and combines the results.
I've started using it a bit today, and I like it -- I don't know how it'll compete with google for my needs, but I'm giving it a shot. I prefer Google's interface, but so far, this has come up with more useful results than Google has. I'm not saying it's better than Google, but it's something you might be interested in trying. So far, I'm pretty happy with it.