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How To Search the Internet

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The Internet has changed a lot since the days of the big 4 search engines (Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, Altavista). Nowadays, many engines and directories have become a lot less useful by charging for listings thereby excluding many sites or by placing sites higher if they pay money for each click generated leading to irrelevant results. To understand the relationship between the search engines, view the Search Engine Relationship Chart which is a free PDF chart provided by Bruce Clay Internet Business Consultants. Many of the US search engines also have UK sites. Some of these have been listed below but in the main, it really doesn't make a difference which you use. Finally, if you don't understand any of the words below, find them in the Search Engine Terms Glossary.


Search Engines

There are hundreds of search engines but only a few useful ones. Sites like looksmart and yahoo are too selective in their listings and because they charge a fee (bribe) to list sites quickly, are often out of date. Pay Per Click sites like miva, and Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture and before that, GoTo) also result in less relevant results and are often full of adverts.

In the lead -

Google - Without a shadow of a doubt the greatest thing since sliced bread. Google mixes its own results with those of DMOZ (see below) resulting in accurate, uptodate results. I am not sure how long it will remain this way for and it may fall victim to greed. There is also a Google UK and now Google De but searching the US site is generally the same.

Alltheweb - Very good site with many additional features. The results are comprehensive and usually accurate. Alltheweb is powered by Fast Search

Close Behind -

Teoma and Wisenut are two new engines to keep an eye on. Teoma provides standard results alongside results handpicked by experts. Wisenut prides itself on trying to be comprehensive and accordingly has now indexed 1.5 billion pages. Altavista has always been around and used to be the best engine available. It had some problems towards the end of 1999 but following a shake up of the site things seem to be back on track. There is of course a Altavista UK site but again it doesn't make a difference.

Some of the others - (Click UK for the UK site)

Abrexa UK - New site, not really comprehensive yet.
AOL - Okay, nothing special. (UK)
Ask Jeeves - Good but limited. UK site is better. (UK)
Bestoftheweb - About to be redeveloped. Stay tuned.
Excite - Okay but used to be a lot better. Suffering a lot of financial problems too.
Gigablast - Large number of indexed pages. New so we'll see how it performs in the long run.
Hotbot - Okay but recent changes have taken their toll on the quality of the results. (UK)
Looksmart - Too exclusive.
Lycos - Still good but not great. (UK)
MSN - Okay but UK site is far too exclusive. (UK)
Netscape - Okay (UK)
Northern Light - Now only searches certain information tools only.


It should be noted that many of the search engines listed above are also directories. Yahoo! in fact is just a directory even though it is often referred to as a Search Engine.

DMOZ Open Directory is the largest online directory maintained by almost 30000 editors worldwide. This human touch means that the results are often more relevant than anywhere else.

Yahoo! - Terrible, sadly! Great example of why the internet should not be dominated by companies. (UK)

Meta Search Engines

In the lead -

Vivisimo - Amazing engine which delivers every time. It has many additional features which make it stand out from the rest.
Ixquick - Excellent metasearch engine which searches 15 engines at once then delivers the most relevant results from these based on their ranking in the other engines.
Kartoo - Results are okay but the unique approach to layout and design means it deserves a top mention.

Some of the others -

Dogpile - Quite a good metasearch engine but instead of compiling them it lists each engine separately. Ads.
Infospace - Has far too many ads and uses paid listings. Ads.
Mamma - Okay, not great. Ads.
Metacrawler - Used to be good but now awful. It tied itself to certain engines so has limited results. Metaspy is an amusing feature on the site where you can be a voyeur and watch what other people are searching for. Ads.
ProFusion - Searches several engines at once including the "invisible web". - CNET search engine which lets you search several places at once. Nothing special though. Ads.
Searchalot - Same idea as Dogpile but has a better layout of results.
ZapMeta - Meta search engine that uses Yahoo, Wisenut, MSN, Alltheweb and Hotbot.

Computer Tools

Copernic - Copernic is an amazing free tool which searches 10 sites at once and delivers the results to your desktop. These are then kept for as long as you like and can be updated whenever you want. This tool would be invaluable if you were, for example, to try and compile a directory of Scottish Law Firms!

Specialised Searching

Searching for software - - Excellent site which not only has pretty much all software available, it also rates them, allows you to see users reviews and shows how popular they are too.

Further Reading & More Engines

Engines -

Freeality - A directory of search sites. Quite comprehensive collection of search engines and specialised engines which can help you find information about anything.
Pay Per Click Search Engines - Guide to the top Pay Per Click Engines.

Reading -

Bruce Clay Internet Business Consultants have a large selection of guides on this subject which should prove useful.
Search Engine Watch - Useful site with good guides and searching tips and tricks.
Search Engine Glossary - Find out why a spider now has a lot more than 8 legs.
Search Engine Showdon Reviews - Excellent reviews of each of the engines from Search Engine Showdown.
Search Engine Terms - A massive glossary of internet search technology terms.



Kevin F Crombie 2002
Scottish Law Online

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This guide is not definitive. It is simply collection of hints and tips which will hopefully prove useful to the internet beginner or intermediary. If you would like a topic to be covered, or a question answered then use the Feedback form on Scottish Law Online and I'll try and find someone to answer it.

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