CURRENT VERSION IS SEY 2003
André le Roux
The Internet is without any doubt the largest source
of information on just about any topic you can think of. The problem
is that you can easily waste many hours sifting through irrelevant sites.
This little tutorial is about effective Internet
searching - about cutting down your search time by searching smarter.
There are thousands of search engines and directories
on the Net, so the first thing you have to do is decide which one to
No, the answer is not always Google. You may end
up using a directory instead especially if you are researching
a fairly broad topic.
When And How To Use A Directory
Directories like DMOZ (http://dmoz.org)
are usually human-created indexes of web sites neatly organized into
topical categories. Because they are created by hand, they are usually
much smaller than search engines. You might be thinking that search
engine are therefore far better at finding relevant info, but
Small can be good.
Lets say were looking for something
very general educational PC games.
There must be thousands of sites mentioning educational
PC games. Sifting through all that will take hours. But when you
use a directory, someone else has already done the sifting. Thats
what makes directories useful. There is almost always some kind of editorial
selection process where sites are measured against a standard set by
the directory. At one stage, the Yahoo editors where rumored to reject
as many as 9 out of 10 site submissions.
Because of this, directories will have only
a few sites per category, but they are very likely the best sites on
Lets see if we can find educational PC games.
I think Ill head to
When you use the Yahoo search feature, the results
you see are from Google. Thats not what we want, so we instead
go to their category listings looking for something like Computers,
Software or maybe even Shopping.
Yes, there it is. Software
Under the main category, Computers &
Internet, theres a sub-category called Software.
Now its just a matter of drilling down. When you click Software
it shows its sub-categories. Under Software there is Education,
under that theres Teaching & Learning Aids and
under that theres Games. In this case the Games
sub-directory is as far down as you can go. It shows only sites listed
in that category no further sub-categories.
Using Search Engines
This is where it gets more complicated, but stay
with me. Ill make you a super searcher if you do.
How much time do you spend searching during an
average day? I probably use search engines a bit more than most people.
I discovered that I spend about 2 hours a day finding information via
search engines correction
looking for information. Actually
finding it is another thing altogether.
I decided to read up on search techniques and with
some nifty new tricks chopped my search time (almost) in half. Unfortunately
being good at searching costs me more time than it saves. Friends now
phone me up André, hi! I need something on the diet
of the Malaysian hunting spider for Billys science project. Any
ideas? Uh, yeah Bob, buy my book.
Seriously though, heres what I learned about
searching the web
The first and most important thing in web searching
is to use the RIGHT search engine. Contrary to popular belief, they
dont all index the entire web even though they have billions
of documents in their databases. Ok, we know that when looking for something
fairly broad, directories are great. Now,
To Use Which Search Engine
For broad, general searches, try http://www.google.com
For quality academic resources, try http://www.lii.org
For shopping, try http://www.yahoo.com
For natural language questions, try http://www.ask.com
For expert links, try http://www.about.com
For news, try http://news.google.com
For government info (U.S.), try http://www.firstgov.gov
For images, try http://images.google.com
For multimedia, try http://www.alltheweb.com/advanced
For kids sites, try http://www.yahooligans.com
For queries containing stop words, e.g. To be or not to be,
Most search engines allow you to use Boolean operators
like AND, OR etc.
Imagine youre ordering a ham sandwich. You
want cheese but no tomato or unions. To a search engine youd say:
ham sandwich AND cheese AND NOT tomato AND NOT union
No, its not that easy. It would be if all
search engines used the same Boolean operators, but they dont.
Heres what they do use:
On Internet Searching / Further Reading
Complete Planet's search tutorial is the complete search tutorial. It
is extremely thorough - providing more information than most of us need.
Fortunately, they offer a clickable table of contents that makes it
Internet Search Strategies
By Greg R. Notess
Creative tips on how to use search engines more effectively
Web Search Strategies
By Debbie Flanagan
A good, concise tutorial on using the correct strategies to find what
you are looking for.
Finding Information on the Internet
By Joe Barker
Another comprehensive tutorial. "This tutorial presents the substance
of the Internet Workshops offered year-round by the Teaching Library
at the University of California at Berkeley."
Lookoff.com Search Tutorial
An informative tutorial that's also fun to read.
Search Engine Math
By Danny Sullivan
Forget power searching. Don't worry about learning to do a "Boolean"
search. All most people need to know is a little basic "search
engine math" in order to improve their results.
Lies, Damned Lies, & Web Pages
By Chris Sherman
The Web is full of true lies or are they false truths? Here's
how to cut through the dross to find the real gold on the Web.
Lesson One: What is The Web? Why
Cant I Find What I Want?
Lesson 1 of 6 on searching the web. Highly recommended.
Seven Habits Of Effective Searchers
By Chris Sherman
Searching the Web isn't hard. Finding what you're looking for is the
Super Searchers' Search Secrets
By Chris Sherman
"Super Searcher." The phrase conjures images of an action
movie protagonist who sits down at a strange computer, taps in a command
like "access top-secret national security archives," and is
immediately rewarded with a cascade of sensitive data scrolling up the
screen. But that only happens in Hollywood never on the Internet.
Right? Well, not exactly.
Search Engine Features For Searchers
By Danny Sullivan,
Chart to help you search effectively. At a glance.
Finding Information on the Internet:
From UC Berkerley Library. A very comprehensive, award-winning tutorial
on Internet searching.
page is based on information contained in the Search Engine Yearbook 2003.
For more detailed search engine information & help, please refer to the
current version of the book.
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