MONEY & POLITICS
THE RIGHT WING
Tips for Using Search Engines
When you are unable to find the information you need on any of the
recommended web sites, it is always possible to do your own search using
one of the popular search engines. No two search engines index the
web in exactly the same way, so it is important to try several before
abandoning your search. The main guidelines for conducting a
successful search are: (1) begin with a simple search and then
progressively narrow your search by adding additional terms; (2) enter
your rarest and most important search terms before more common words;
(3) use phrases or proper names, enclosing them in quotes if necessary;
(4) try alternative words or phrases that refer to the same topic; (5)
use the plus (+) sign to indicate words that must appear in each page
found; (6) click the Help or Search Tips or Advanced
Search link to learn about the special features of each search
engine. Below are just a few of the many search engines available
on the web.
The best choice to begin with. Very large database and
sophisticated search engine. Allows you limit search to
particular domains and to view pages that are related or linked to a
given page. Does
a better job than most of indexing the SEC pages. Allows you to
search newsgroups as well as the web.
Yahoo. A distant second among
search engines. For most of its life, the Yahoo Search has
served merely as a user interface with the actual web crawling, data
storage, and retrieval done by other engines like Inktomi or Google.
Yahoo recently contracted with Microsoft to use Bing to power its
Bing. Microsoft's entry into the
search engine market. Similar to Google but sports a prettier
interface and various features designed to appeal to the mass
Originally known as Ask Jeeves, this search engine offers the option
of entering your searches in the form of questions. Operates
separate sites in a number of major European countries and
One of the pioneers among search engines. Has a large database and
a robust set of search commands. Also translates text into
different languages. Recently purchased by Yahoo.
Another pioneer among search engines, this site has now scaled back
its search capabilities to focus more on web entertainment
Using Meta-Search Engines
With meta-search engines you enter your search terms and the
meta-engine processes the search through a number of different search
engines simultaneously. This can save you much time and effort,
but the downside is that you are limited to only the simplest search
commands that are handled by all search engines. The meta-engine
also returns only a limited number of hits from each search site, so
you may miss some hits that are further down on the list. Below are a
few of the popular meta-search engines.
Blends the top search results from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and
Ask. Advanced search and preference options give you some
control over customizing your search. One annoying feature is
that it includes paid listings from commercial sites among the
search results. Owned and operated by InfoSpace.
Similar to MetaCrawler, but with a slightly different
interface. Owned and operated by InfoSpace.
A stripped down meta-search engine. Operated by CBS Interactive.
Another bare bones meta-search engine.
Says that it allows you to search 37 search engines at once, the largest
number of any meta-engine but probably more than is necessary for
One of the frustrating problems of online content is that it often
disappears within a few months or years. For example, you may be
interested in exploring the campaign website of a political candidate in
the last election or in retrieving an earlier year's annual report of a
major corporation from their website, only to find that the content you
are seeking is no longer accessible. Sometimes you can find an
copy of what you want by using the Internet Archive.
Archive. You first need to know the URL for the
website you are looking for. For many organizations, this will
be the same or similar to their current internet address.
Entering the URL into the search box of the "Way Back
Machine" will generate a list of snapshots of the site you are
interested in at different time points as far back as the
mid-1990s. Ordinarily you will only have access to the top one
or two layers of the website. Sometimes one snapshot will have
more or less content than another, so if you don't find what you
want on your first try, you may want to examine another snapshot
from a nearby time.
If you do not know exactly what you are looking for, but want to get
information on a general topic, consider using a subject directory.
These allow you to begin with a general topic such as
"Business and Economy" and then narrow your topic to
"Finance and Investment" and then further to
"Banking" and so forth. Only a few years ago you had many
such directories to choose from, but currently Yahoo
and the Open Directory Project are
the main sites of this kind.
Copyright © 2012 by Val Burris