Searching the Internet

Web search techniques and tools

Three different ways to search are listed below

The Internet can be awfully intimidating, as there are literally millions of web sites on just about every subject under the sun. Thankfully, the following tools are available to help you find your way through this maze of information!

Search Engines - (quantity over quality)

Search engines index many more web sites than directories (see below), but they generally don't classify each site under a specific subject heading. Rather, they look for the incidence of keywords that have been typed by the searcher. This can sometimes lead to problems, for some sites may contain the right keywords but may have nothing to do with the subject of interest. Sometimes the results list will be ranked according to a ranking system. Here are a few recommended search engines:

  • Yahoo -- A long-established search engine.
  • Alltheweb -- Excellent advanced search features.
  • Google -- Can choose to search more than web pages.
  • Ask -- Searching by asking a question.
  • AltaVista -- Searches can be made for documents in a specific language, and many sites can be translated.

Directories - (quality over quantity)

Since they are arranged by subject, directories are a great place to start to browse through sites related to a general topic of interest. However, it is important to remember that directories are more limited in their coverage of the Internet than search engines. Here are a few directories:

Meta-Search Engines

Meta-search engines search several search engines, like those listed above, at the same time, eliminating the need to run the same search over and over. The result list may be sorted or lumped together according to ranking features. Here are a few meta-search engines:

  • Dogpile -- Will search about seven different search engines.
  • Ixquick -- Ranks by number of results. Most search engines. Allows choice of search engines.
  • MetaCrawler -- One of the oldest meta-engines.
  • Mamma -- The Mother of all Meta-Searches.
  • Info.com -- Something new. Might work faster than others.
  • Ihound.com -- Fairly new, with lots of ways to search.

Specialized Search Engines

These are special in some way...

  • Zuula -- Something new on the scene. Works fast. Searches several search engines at once.  See via tabs at the top.
  • Quintura -- Uses tag clouds in results. Can save tag clouds for later.
  • Viewzi  --  Different ways to view results, by grid or list or ...
  • All Search -- One page mega search, offers some choices not available elsewhere.

Invisible Web

How do you access that which you are not allowed to see??? The web is great, but there is still large amounts of information that is behind some kind of obstacle, either many layers of web pages, a for-fee service, or in a format search engines cannot search. It is estimated that even the largest search engines each index no more than sixteen per cent of the Web. The hidden data cannot be reached by search engines and is called the "invisible web" or the "deep web". Much of this data is contained in databases of the kind we have here at Kinlaw Library through EbscoHost. Our library pays a subscription to allow campus-wide access to those databases. This data is not free on the web. Here are some sources of information about the Invisible Web:

How to choose a GOOD search engine

How do you decide which search engine is best?

For more information about types of search engines and how they work, go to Search Engine Watch.

For statistics on how much of the web each search engine actually looks at, check out the Search Engine Showdown.

Advice on which search engine to use when

Recommended search engines and subject directories

Please remember to evaluate what you have discovered in your search. Not all information is created equal.