Search engines and directories can assist users in finding Internet sites of interest. Users can type in keywords describing their topics and these search tools will find, sometimes ranking, any sites that match the words according to their relevancy.
A brief explanation of each of the Internet Search Tools is available by clicking on the specific column heading. If in doubt, consult the "FAQ" or "Help" or "Tools & Tips" sections that can be found on most Search Tools.
- Search Engines
A search engine relies on computer programs called spiders or robots to crawl the World Wide Web and log the words on each page. With a search engine, you type keyword(s) that are related to a topic into a search "box." The search engine then scans its database and returns a file with links to websites containing the word or words specified. The downside of these databases is that they are very large, so these search engines often return thousands of results. Without search strategies or techniques, finding what you need can be quite frustrating and time consuming.
Therefore, it is essential you apply some methods or technique that can narrow results and push the most relevant pages to the top of the results list.
altavista | Ask.com
Bing [formerly MSN Live Search] | entireweb | Excite
Google | HotBot | Lycos
maMMa | unabot | webcrawler
- Subject Directories
Think of a subject directory as a catalog of sites that has been collected and organized by humans. Subject directories are often called subject "trees" because they start with a few main categories and then branch out into subcategories, topics, and subtopics. A good example of how subject directories work was provided by Debbie Flannigan, a librarian in Fort Lauderdale, FL. She illustrates the finding of the homepage for the Atlanta Braves at Yahoo!.
First, she asks you to select "Recreation & Sports" at the top level, "Sports" at the next level, "Baseball" at the third level, "Major League Baseball" at the fourth level, "Teams" at the fifth level, then finally "Atlanta Braves."
Because humans were the ones that organized the websites in subject directories, she feels that you can often find a good starting point (but only if your topic is included). Directories are also quite useful when finding information on a topic where you don't have a exact idea of just what you may need. A wonderful feature of many of the large directories is that they often include a keyword search option which can eliminate much of the need to work through numerous levels of topics and subtopics.
Since directories cover only a small fraction of the pages available on the World Wide Web, they are most effective when "hunting" for general information on popular or scholarly subjects. Remember, if you are looking for something quite specific, use a search engine.
About.com | Academic Info | BUBL Link |
GPO Access (U.S. Gov't. Documents) | INFOMINE |
Librarians' Internet Index | Mednar (medical research) |
Open Directory Project | Patent Lens (search Patents) |
whatUseek | WWW Virtual Library | Yahoo!
- Name Directories
Name Directories can be explained by looking at the description of a Subject Directory above.
AnyWho | Business.com | Fone Finder | LibDex: The Library Index
USA BluePagesUSA Info | US Telephone Directories | US Zip Codes
World Telephone Directories | YellowBook
- Meta - Search Tools
Meta-search engines search several major engines at once. Meta-search engines do not crawl the Web or maintain a database of web pages. Rather, they act as the middleman, passing the query to the major engines it uses, usually 10 or more, and then returning the results. Because the major search engines often produce very different results, meta-search engines provide a quick way to determine which engines are retrieving the best match for your information need; allowing you to further concentrate your search using the search engine that is working best for you. Simple searches seem to work best when using this Internet Search Tool.
So, when you need answers and you need them now, conducting your search on a meta-search engine gives you a variety of results to choose from in a fraction of the time that it would take you to search several engines. One other thing to keep in mind is that Meta-search engines can produce large quantities of information that can be difficult to wade through.
Clusty | dogpile | ixquick |
metacrawler | Pandia Search Control
| Surfwax | Turbo 10
- Search Tool Collections
Access is provided through a search box into the contents of a database in a computer somewhere on the Internet. Any topic can be searched, no matter how trivial. It can be commercial, task-specific, or a rich treasure devoted to your topic. Keyword searching is also utilized with many of these collections.
allonesearch.com | Answers.com | Beaucoup!
direct search | findspot | HighBeam Web Research
InfoGrid | intute | search.com
Search Engine Colossus | Search Engine Guide
- Document Search Engines
This specialized set of search engines allows you to search for and locate specific document or file types. Their custom search technology is designed to specifically search out topics in .doc, .pdf, Excel and/or Power Point document formats.
Brupt | docjax | DOC-TXT.com | Google scholar | JPowerPoint.com | PDFGeni.com | Pubget | voelspriet
Most general web surfers and Internet users want to know how to find things better using different search tools. Presented here are links to different sites that will provide you with the basics to locate what you want when it may seem easy or impossibly difficult to find.
Greg Notess, a writer and speaker who has been researching and covering Internet information resources since 1990 created Search Engine Showdown that compares and evaluates Internet search engines from the searcher's perspective.
Evaluating the quality of information on the Internet can be quite daunting. The libraries at Ohio State University have collaborated on a tutorial, Evaluating Web Sites > Overview - Key Ideas.