Mr. Palmer's Site

Roseville High School

Search Engines

What is a search engine?
A program which acts as a card catalog for the Internet. Search engines attempt to index and locate desired information by searching for keywords in which a user specifies. The method for finding this information is usually done by maintaining indices of Web resources that can be queried for the keywords entered by the user. These lists are either built from specific resource lists (as is the case with a search directory) or created by Web programs, with insect names like bots, spiders, crawlers, and worms.
     From a Net surfer point-of-view search engines can be quite tiresome and not very efficient if you don't know how to use them correctly. On top of that, different engines are good for different kinds of searches so it's a good idea before using a search engine to READ THE ADVANCED SEARCH SECTION of the engine's Web site.
    Examples would include Google, Yahoo, MS Live, Ask, etc.

What is a "search bot"
Automated programs or scripts which travel on the Web and copy pages, ads and anything else they are programmed for. In most cases such activity is used for archive or storage. Search engines conduct this type of activity to provide useful links when users conduct specific queries.
    Examples include: Dogpile, Clusty, Excite, Metacrawler, and etc.

Which should I use?
That all depends on what you are looking for on the web. While search bots are nice in they search multiple search engines at the same time, sometimes they provide too much information. While only using as single search engine can at time result in a lack of information. Balance and smart searching are key.

Smart Searching?
Listed below are just a few basic tips to help you in your quest for the answers.

1. Use quotation marks: For example type "air conditioning" rather than air conditioning. This tells the engine that the exact term "air conditioning" must be in the results. Otherwise you might find yourself looking at hair conditioning products.
2. Use the minus (-) sign: This tells the engine you do not want this word. For example "Shakespeare - William" will find matches for "Shakespeare" the do not include "William". The plus sign is of course the opposite but you will find not quite as useful.
3. Get Definitions: If you type define word in the query window a quick definition will appear. Google requires an added colon (:) i.e. define:word.
4. Ask in plain English: Search engines today are improving due to fine tuning which is occurring constantly. So go ahead and ask. For example if you enter "yellow polka dot bikini" 45 rpm excellent condition the engine will understand you are looking for a copy of Brian Hyland's 1960 novelty record without scratches.
5. Boolean is your friend (sometimes): Boolean statements are "And, not, or, near" which are logic statements. I will go over these in class but increasingly these are not helpful due to the plain English factor from above, and are routinely ignored by search engines.