Little Engine That Could and You Can, Too!

"Search Engines" are special programs which allow you to "search" the entire World Wide Web or Usenet (or particular websites, etc.) for keywords, specific phrases, the names of persons, etc. Search engines, to a significant degree, make the World Wide Web usable.

BUT, not all search engines are alike. Search engines, for the most part, have chosen to emphasize different capabilities and search methods. I begin with different ones, depending on the information I have at hand and the information I am attempting to locate. Searching for information on the World Wide Web involves both understanding the tools one has available and when (and how) to best utilize each tool. Here are some of the most well known general search engines:

Google is searches over 2 billion Web pages to return results extremely quickly and selects for sites which have the most other Web pages linking to them. As a result, the first two or three hits tend to be right on the mark. You can also search easily for images (photos, graphics, etc.).

Yahoo! (Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Object-oriented search engine), for example, is a good place to start for what I call a "subject search". That is, you know what general category you are looking in but don't know the names of particular sites. Yahoo! is generally acknowledged to be the leader in the field of website categories (i.e. directories).

Teoma combines the strengths of Google and Yahoo! in that it searches for sites which have the most other sites IN THE SAME SUBJECT AREA linking to it.

AskJeeves.com allows you to just type in a plain English question. It will then search its library of previously-answered questions and if it has answered this question in the past, it will give you that answer. In addition, it gives you other search engines' results to the same question.

There are also search engines which specialize in looking up individual people's email addresses and voice phone numbers, such as AnyWho. Yahoo (and others) also have a link to excellent personal email lookup search engines. Switchboard (and others) allows one to search for voice telephone listings, businesses & residential, but don't expect any Web search engine to have "unlisted" phone numbers.

There are, of course, many more search engines than these. But mastering these will give one a solid start. If you do not find a web site using these search engines, remember that that does NOT necessarily mean that it is not out there. It means that on that particular day you just did not find it. But you have a much better chance of finding what you want once you have learned what each of the above search engines can do for you!

For more information see:

  • Spider's Apprentice
  • Search Engines
  • Search Engine Watch.com
  • Searching the Internet Effectively
  • Find It Fast!
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    Last Modified: 9/1/2002