Using Search Engines to Find Web Resources

Search engines mechanically roam the Internet to compile lists of Web pages. Directories, on the other hand, are compiled by humans who analyze Web sites and assign them to categories. AltaVista, Excite, GoTo, HotBot, Insfoseek, Lycos, Northern Light, and WebCrawler are examples of search engines, while LookSmart, Snap, and Yahoo are examples of directories. Some search engines are hybrids: that is, they have directories built into them. The term search engine is commonly used to denote all three types of service--search engines, directories, and hybrids. Try searching for "Native American" and similar terms using one or more of the following search engines. (Note: Web resources are constantly changing, so you may find that some of these services have merged, changed names, or disappeared altogether. Visit the Research Process Web site at Mayfield Publishing Company for current updates to this and other parts of the exercise.)

Popular Search Engines and Directories

About.com

An "all-purpose" directory service that uses individual experts to help you find information. The built-in "Sprinks" search service ranks sites according to how much their advertisers have paid for their ranking.

AltaVista

A popular "all-purpose" search engine. You may search in any language.

AOL Search

Although operating under its own brand name, this search engine is powered by "Excite."

Ask!

Really a human-compiled Web directory rather than a search engine, it lets you search for items by framing natural-language questions.

Clusty

A search engine that “clusters” web sites in categorized folders, eliminating the need to search through page after page of uncategorized search results.

Dogpile

A "meta-search engine" that scans the results of multiple search engines and presents you with all the results. Useful for finding comprehensive results.

Excite

A "full Web" engine, it searches every word of every page on the Web. It also includes an extensive set of pre-selected Web sites and Usenet postings. Presents pre-organized results on cities, companies, or sports teams.

Go.com

A popular "all-purpose" search engine; driven by Overture (discussed below).

Google

The most popular search engine, a “popularity contest” search engine that ranks each site according to how many pages link to that site.

HotBot

Another "full Web" engine and part of the Lycos Network, it searches every word of every page on the Web. "Advanced search" lets you limit your search by language, geographical region, or date.

LookSmart

Really a human-compiled Web directory rather than a search engine, LookSmart indexes, categorizes and reviews selected Web sites.

Lycos

Once merely a popular "all-purpose" search engine, Lycos is now an Internet "hub" offering a variety of services, including searches.

Metacrawler

A "meta-search engine" that scans the results of multiple search engines and presents you with all the results. Useful for finding comprehensive results.

Live Search

A popular "all-purpose" search engine.

Netscape Search

Like AOL.com Search, Netscape Search is powered by Excite.

Northern Light

Features a large index and the ability to cluster documents by topic. Also offers its own collection of full-text documents not available through other search engines.

Search.com

A "meta-search engine" that scans the results of multiple search engines and presents you with all the results. The search profile can be customized to include as many as 100 specialized search engines.

WebCrawler

A "meta-search engine" that scans the results of multiple search engines and presents you with all the results.

Yahoo

Really a human-compiled Web directory rather than a search engine, Yahoo indexes, categorizes and reviews Web sites. Its organization and selectivity make it among the most popular search engines on the Web.

Helpful tips on how to make a search engine find what you want it to find are given at Search Engine Watch. Visit http://www.searchenginewatch.com/facts/powersearch.html.

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Last updated 15 September 2008.