Internet Search Tools

For a quick browse, try...

For a quick search, try...

For a quick metasearch, try...

 Choosing the best search tool (by Debbie Abilock)


Search Engines Search Strategies Web Cheat Sheet Mega Search Tools

Search Engines

Search engines allow you to enter keywords or strings of keywords into a search box and match words character for character. Strategy is important. Users should consider alternate keywords, use of logical operators, phrase searching and the unique syntax of each search engine. For best results check the "help" or "tips" pages. Several of the engines now have handy directories to browse.

AltaVista http://www.altavista.com

Indexes the most document and offers new features for refining searches. Users may now choose from lists of related terms to refocus their search.

Excite http://www.excite.com

The only engine to feature "concept searching." Make use of the "more like this" feature.

Google! http://www.google.com

Developed at Stanford, this search engine ranks results by popularity, the number and the quality of the other sites linking back to it.

GoTo.com http://www.goto.com

A new player advertising a simple, comprehensive search.

Hotbot http://www.hotbot.com

Easy-to-use search strategies in those handy pull-down menus.

Infoseek http://www.infoseek.com

Contains an excellent directory and many extra services.

Lycos http://www.lycos.com

Great relevance ranking. Reviewers choose the top %5 sites.

Northern Light http://www.northernlight.com

A new search engine that also indexes contents of nearly 2000 publications, many of which are not accessible elsewhere on the Web. Custom search folders categorize documents.

PlanetSearch http://www.planetsearch.com

Results offer "find similar" and "preview text" features.

Search Engines Worldwide http://www.twics.com/~takakuwa/search/

List search engines around the world.

Webcrawler http://www.webcrawler.com

One of the first on the block offers and simple, friendly interface.


Mega Search Tools

All-In-One http://www.albany.net/allinone

Many specialized search tools, one convenient interface.

Ask Jeeves http://www.askjeeves.com

Jeeves, the butler, encourages natural language (real question-type), searching.

also: Ask Jeeves for Kids http://www.ajkids.com

Beaucoup: The Big Page http://www.beaucoup.com/

Lists well over 1000 engines, directories and indexes!

Dogpile http://www.dogpile.com

One-stop shopping with the results organized by search engine.

E-Z Find http://www.theriver.com/TheRiver/Explore/ezfind.html

Offers easy access to several search engines, one at a time, but no retyping.

Inference Find http://www.inference.com/ifind

Conducts parellel searches of the major search engines in under seven seconds and groups the results in categories.

Mamma http://www.mamma.com

The "mother of all search engines" allows users to search titles, summaries and phrases in an easy-to-use interface. Automatically uses special syntax for incorrect queries.

MetaCrawler http://www.metacrawler.com

Searches several search engines and organizes the results into uniform, relevance-ranked format.

MetaSearch http://www.metasearch.com

Separates your searches and allows for use of different syntax with each engine.

NewsTrawler http://www.newstrawler.com

Searches a variety of Web sources including newspapers and journals.

ProFusion http:/www.profusion.com

Searches nine different services and offers a variety of display options.

Search.com http://www.search.com

Offers a variety of specialized searching options.

Subject Directories

Directories are organized listings of web pages arranged by subjects. Browsing through lists of sites works better than searching when you are looking for broad concepts, seeking to narrow a topic or if you do not have particularly unique keywords.

Academic Information http://www.academicinfo.net/index.html

Directory of links aimed at upper high school and university students.

Argus Clearinghouse http://www.clearinghouse.net

Carefully evaluated lists of highly academic focus.

Best Information on the Internet http://library.sau.edu/bestinfo/Librarians/intergen.htm

Chosen by librarians at O'Keefe Library, St. Ambrose University.

CyberDewey http://www.dodomagnifico.com/CyberDewey/CyberDewey.html

Internet resources arranged by Dewey Decimal numbers.

Britannica Internet Guide http://www.britannica.com/

A new "thinking person's" Web navigation service featuring a directory of over 125,000 sites hand-picked by Britannica's editors.

Digital Librarian http://www.servtech.com/~mvail/

Eye On the Web http://www.eyeontheweb.com/

"The best of the Web at your fingertips."

HotSheet http://www.hotsheet.com

An awe-inspiring list of categories and a great place to start browsing.

Infomine http://lib-www.ucr.edu/

Links to over over 11,000 scholarly sites: natural and social sciences, visual and performing arts, and educational resources.

Internet Public Library http://www.ipl.org/

Traditional library guidance in a cozy virtual environment.

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/

Award-winning, classified list of quality sites and resources for teachers.

KidsClick! http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/KidsClick!/

Excellent, highly selective directory created for young people and their teachers.

Librarian's Index to the Internet http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/InternetIndex/

Berkeley Public Library's excellent catalog of links.

LookSmart http://www.looksmart.com

Popular list of links sponsored by Reader's Digest

Magellan http://www.mckinley.com

One of the largest directories featuring a four-star evaluation system.

Mining Company http://home.miningco.com/

Highly selective and up to date links

ResearchPaper.com http://www.researchpaper.com

A great place to start for term paper/project ideas with links to InfoSeek and elibrary searches.

StudyWeb http://www.studyweb.com

Links collected especially for secondary students.

Ultimate Hotlist http://www.techlearning.com/hotlist.shtml

Technology and Learning's guide to "the Web's educational treasures."

Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com

The mother of all subject directories and the perfect place to begin a general topic search.

Yahooligans http://www.yahooligans.com

The child of the mother of all subject directories and a safe starting place for younger searcher/browsers.


Search Strategies

If you are not happy with your results, try another search engine; check your spelling; or try synonyms or related, broader or narrower terms. By all means, use some strategy. Though they have many quirks, most engines allow users the following advanced techniques.

 

Search Strategy Explanation Examples
Boolean operators

AND limits your search, requiring that both or all word appear

OR is used to capture synonyms or related words

NOT eliminates possibilities that you suspect will cause problems

(Some search engines use + and - for AND and NOT

Vietnam AND protest AND students

Japan AND cooking

car OR automobile

coronary OR heart

Martin Luther NOT King

China NOT dishes

Wildcards An asterisk (*) or a questionmark (?) may be used to stand for any character or string of characters.

teen* (picks up teenage, teenagers, or teens)

Herz? (for Herzegovina)

wom?n (for woman or women)

Natural language searches Some search engines allow you to type in questions as you would think or speak them. Why is the sky blue?
Phrases You often will want words to appear together in specific order. Commonly, quotation marks ("") set words off as phrases to be searched as a whole. (Some search engines use parentheses, commas, or hyphens instead of quotation marks.)

"vitamin A"

"bed and breakfast"

"George Washington Carver"

Proximity Words often are not meaningful in your search unless they appear near each other in a document. In large documents, words separated by lots of text are generally unrelated. ADJ specifies that two words appear next to each other. NEAR/25 specifies that two words appear within 25 words of each other.

global ADJ warming

Eric Clapton NEAR/10 Cream

Field searching This feature restricts searches to certain portions of Web documents. It allows you to specify that the search words appear in the title, URL, or first paragraph.

title: cancer

URL: epa

Case sensitivity Most search engines are case insensitive by default. However, there are some that recognize uppercase and lowercase variations.

Baker (retrieves name and eliminates reference to cake and bread makers)

AIDS (eliminates reference to helpers)

China (eliminates references to dishes)

From Power Tools: 100+ Essential Forms and Presentations for Your School Library Information Program by Joyce Kasman Valenza. Copyright 1998 American Library Association. Used by permission of ALA Editions. Reproduction for nonprofit educational purposes permitted.


Web Cheat Sheet : Where should I start my search?

Subject directories:

Cool School Tools http://www.bham.lib.al.us/cooltools/

HotSheet http://www.hotsheet.com/

Internet Public Library http://www.ipl.org/

Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators http://www.capecod.net/schrockguide/

Librarian's Index to the Internet (Berkeley Public Library) http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/InternetIndex/

LookSmart http://www.looksmart.com

Magellan http://www.mckinley.com/

Study Web http://www.studyweb.com/

WWW Virtual Library http://www.w3.org/pub/DataSources/bySubject/Overview.html

Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com

Yahooligans http://www.yahooligans.com

Better quality, evaluated sites:

Lycos Top 5% from Point http://point.lycos.com/categories/index.html

Magellan http://www.mckinley.com/

By date:

AltaVista http://www.altavista.com

HotBot http://www.hotbot.com

Command-free search strategies:

Hotbot http://www.hotbot.com

Recognizes capital and lower case letters:

AltaVista http://altavista.com

Magellan http://www.mckinley.com/

Excite People Finder http://www.excite.com/Reference/people.html?a-k-t

Search by Internet domain (.edu, .gov):

Alta Vista http://www.altavista.com

HotBot http://www.hotbot.com

MetaCrawler http://www.metacrawler.com

Expert recommended sites:

Argus Clearinghouse http://www.clearinghouse.net/

Graphics, sounds and quicktime videos:

HotBot http://www.hotbot.com

Lycos Media http://www.lycos.com/

Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com/Computers/Multimedia/Pictures

Usenet news groups:

AltaVista http://www.altavista.com

Excite Usenet Newsgroups http://www.excite.com/Reference/usenet.html?a-un-t

Infoseek http://www.infoseek.com

Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com

Hard to find term or phrase:

Alta Vista http://www.altavista.com

Opentext http://index.opentext.net/

Field searching.

Alta Vista http://www.altavista.com

HotBot http://www.hotbot.com

Open Text http://index.opentext.net/

Reference questions:

HotSheet: Web Quick Reference http://www.hotsheet.com/

Internet Public Library Ready Reference http://www.ipl.org/ref/RR/

Martindale's Reference Desk http://www.martindalecenter.com/

My Virtual Reference Desk http://www.refdesk.com/

Yahoo Reference http://www.yahoo.com/Reference

Research-It! http://www.iTools.com/

Scholes Library Electronic Reference Desk http://scholes.alfred.edu/

Biography

Biography.com (A & E) http://www.biography.com/

Notable Citizens of Planet Earth http://www.tiac.net/users/pisible/visible_human.html

Virtual Medical Center http://www.mediconsult.com

Women's Health http://www.healthy.net/womenshealth

Yahoo: Cancer http://health.yahoo.net/channel/cancer.html


Foreign Language

AltaVista Translation Serivce http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com

Foreign Languages for Travelers http://www.travlang.com/languages/

Foreign Newspapers http://www.lengua.com/zeitung.htm

http://index.opentext.net/

Phone numbers and addresses:

AT&T Toll Free Directory http://www.tollfree.att.net

Big Yellow E-mail Search http://bigyellow.four11.com/cgi-bin/Four11?byemail

Big Foot http://www.bigfoot.com/

Excite People Finder http://www.excite.com/Reference/people.html?a-k-t

Four11 Telephone Directory http://www.four11.com

Lycos People Find http://www.lycos.com/

Switchboard http://www.switchboard.com

WhoWhere? http://www.whowhere.com/

Shareware:

Download.com http://www.download.com

Excite http://www.excite.com/Reference/shareware.html?a-u-t

Jumbo http://www.jumbo.com

Shareware.com http://www.shareware.com

Primary Source Documents

American Memory Collection (Library of Congress) http://rs6.loc.gov/amhome.html

Douglass: Archives of American Public Address http://douglass.speech.nwu.edu/

EuroDocs: Western European Primary Historical Documents http://library.byu.edu/~rdh/eurodocs/

Historical Text Archive http://www.msstate.edu/Archives/History/

Speeches of United States' Presidents http://www.ocean.ic.net/rafiles/pres/thelist.html

U.S. Founding Documents http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDERAL/

U.S. Historical Documents http://www.law.uoknor.edu/ushist.html

From Power Tools: 100+ Essential Forms and Presentations for Your School Library Information Program by Joyce Kasman Valenza. Copyright 1998 American Library Association. Used by permission of ALA Editions. Reproduction for nonprofit educational purposes permitted.