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									GENERAL INTERNET SEARCHING INFORMATION Why use a search engine?  To familiarize you with a range of search capabilities in order to develop an\array of search techniques.  To take advantage of the inexhaustible\ resources available without\wasting time on irrelevant material. Purpose of Search Engines  Automated data gathering - \ spiders, \crawlers, and robots search for terms  Index descriptive information about web sites visited - limited subset of the Internet  Search engine software matches user query with search engine database and returns a results list (may be ranked by relevancy)  Best for specific topic searches or to combine relevant terms in Boolean strings How does Search Engines Work?  Spiders, crawlers, and robots bring back keywords that are entered into the search engine’s database (e.g. Google, Altavista)  Internet users search these databases  Web designers submit their pages to search engines using html (hypertext markup language) tags Each search engine Get to know particulars about specific search engines by clicking on “about us” or “info” at the search engine’s home page. Each search engine has its own:  Database of sites  Command language or syntax  Search capabilities; read the search tips  Method of displaying results How does Search Engines Rank Relevancy? The engines calculate mathematically how relevant each page is to your search –highest at top of results- unless it is a sponsored link  AltaVista –  Excite –  Go Network –  HotBot –  Google - www.*  Lycos - Evaluating Search Engines  Ease of use  Speed  Quality of online help  Relevance of results - Limited number of “dead” links  Current information  Easy to modify search Search Engine Features

Directories  Databases compiled by humans not spiders, etc.  Hierarchical index = menu/submenu structure  Use if searching for information about a general topic; if you are a beginner; if you are looking for an “expert” list; if you want to know what is new; if you are exploring; or if you are not sure where to begin,  May have a search option, but still is not a search engine Major Directories  LookSmart A human- compiled Web directory organizes the Internet content into hundreds of thousands of categories.  Open Directory is the general Web database created by volunteer editors, covering business, computing, science, sports, society, and shopping topics.  Yahoo Po Portal and Web directory provides extensive categories and news, hosts Yahoo  Auctions, Classifieds, Weather and Maps.  Zeal: Community- driven Web directory offers descriptions and ratings of Web sites provided by volunteer. What Are "Meta-Search" engines?  You submit keywords in its search box, and it transmits your search simultaneously to several individual search engines and they’re of web pages.  Within a few seconds, you get back results from all the search engines queried.  Meta- search engines do not own a database of Web pages; they send your search terms to the databases maintained by search engine companies. Meta-Search Engines  Do not index or search the web itself  Submit keyword/query to multiple search engines simultaneously  Results may be an integrated list or listed separately by search engine  Should eliminate duplicates and dead links  Convenient tool  Tools for serious digging in many resources, with powerful abilities to help you find what you seek within search results. These are appropriate for very serious researchers to use for in depth probing of a topic.  Good meta- search engines that accept complex searches, integrate results well, eliminate duplicates, and offer additional features such as intelligent ranking or clustering by subjects within your search results. Popular Meta-Search Engines  Metacrawler  Dogpile What is Clustering? The search engine automatically clusters search results into categories that are intelligently selected from the words and phrases contained in the search results themselves. This means Those categories will be as up-to- date and current as the content searched

Example of Clustering Vivisimo- Document Clustering What is Filtered Searching?  Sexual content has been filtered from results  Kid friendly  Family oriented  Examples: Yahooligans ( (

Ask Jeeves for Kids

Commercial Services  Some sites offer free searching and free summaries, but you pay for the full text  Some search sites combine “free” and “cost” services on the same site  Monthly subscription services are available  Example: E- Library What is a Portal? A Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as e-mail, forums, search engines on-line shopping malls. The first Web portals were online services, AOL that provided access to the Web, but by now most of the traditional search engines have transformed themselves into Web portals to attract and keep a larger audience. Portals  Web sites that offer multiple services (searching, e- mail, weather, sports, etc.)  One-stop- sites for all Internet needs  May be subscription based or free? Examples of Portals Directory Follow this strategy: Computers > Internet > On the Web >Web Portals Web Rings  Ring of closely related web sites  Ring Master: sets the rules and decides membership  A search portal for Web Rings:  Topics include social studies, geography, entertainment, music, education, medicine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc. Evaluating Web Sites  How do you know that the information is accurate?  How do you know that the author is objective?  How current is the information?  How easy is the site to navigate?  Does the information meet your needs? Searching the Internet  Realities of Searching the Internet

Developing Search Strategies - Boolean Logic –Expanding Search Results –Narrowing Search Results –Evaluating Search Engines Realities of Searching the Internet  The Web is not the Internet  Search contents of the search engine’s database of sites NOT the WWW directly  Different search tools can (and do) produce amazingly different results  No search tool includes all of the web pages in existence What can you find on the Internet?  Email  Electronic texts  Government documents  Special databases  Museum collections  Photo and film, sound, and music archives  Maps  Newsgroups  Internet discussion lists and their archives  Reference works  Transcripts of synchronous conversations, web logs or blogs  Web- based periodicals (((((e.g. NY Times  Original documents, journals, letters, manuscripts…. What is the Web?  The Web includes millions of Web sites composed of billions of Web pages  The front page of a Web site called a home page  Browsers are used to view Web pages - Internet Explorer Netscape Navigator The Internet is not just the Web. Locate Web pages with Web addresses or URLs –Uniform Resource Locators Architecture of a Web Address http = hypertext transfer protocol www = world wide web host name with domain of .US Domain A domain consists of a set of network addresses. This domain is organized in levels. The top level identifies geographic or purpose commonality (for example, the nation that the domain covers or a category such as "commercial"). The second level identifies a unique place within the top level domain and is, in fact, equivalent to a unique


address on the Internet (an IP address). Lower levels of domain may also be used. Top Layer Domain Examples .com .edu .org .net .gov Countries –us; ca; .de; fr; hk; au, uk… .aero .biz .coop .info .museum .name .pro

Why Learn to Search?  To master the flux and glut of information on the Internet:  Vast amounts of material  No organization  Sites come and go  Constant change  What’s reliable? Boolean Logic  Use Boolean operators to expand or narrow your search  Boolean logic uses AND, OR and NOT AND Operator  All AND’ed terms must appear in the site  Limits the search  Some search engines use AND as the default between terms (check the “help” information with the specific search engine)  Semicolon sometimes used by search engine in place of the word AND OR Operator   OR between terms will search on either or all terms   Broadens the search   A few search engines use OR as the default between terms (check the “help” information with the specific search engine)   Probably the least useful Boolean operator; except it is a good way to connect synonyms or alternate spellings NOT Operator  Usually placed in front of the word  Eliminates the word from the results  Can be used to filter out concepts  Some search engines cannot use the NOT operator  Different search engines use varying symbols for the Boolean operators  A few search engines do not allow Boolean searches  Meta- search engines may not handle Boolean searches very well Near or proximity logic  Relies on AND logic  Both words are in the document and within a certain number of words of each other (number will vary with search engine used)  Some search engines will let you specify the number of words between  Not all search engines support proximity logic Adjacency Logic  Words are next to each other  Some search engines use quotes (“ ”)  Good for exact phrase searches  Check the “tips” for case sensitive rules for a given search engine

Wildcard Search  Searches on the root of a word: Truncation  Different symbols are used for the “wildcard” depending on the search engine used (*, $,?,%, !)  Automatic in some search engines; this can lead to too many variations and too many irrelevant results  Wildcard character may replace only a single character or multiple characters Nesting Boolean Operators  Parentheses can be used to group Boolean strings 1. NFL AND Dallas OR Houston 2. NFL AND (Dallas OR Houston)  Parentheses can change the default order in which the Boolean operators are processed  Placing one set of parentheses inside of another set is called nesting Plus and Minus Signs  Plus sign (+) used in front of a word to require that the word be in the document returned  Minus sign (-) used in front of a word to eliminate the word from being in the document returned (like NOT)  Check the “help” information for the search engine to see if the + and - are used Boolean Logic Resources Boolean Searching on the Internet: Expand Search Results  Try a different search engine; it may return different results for the exact same query  Try a topic directory or topic search engine when available  Try using the Boolean operator OR  Check spelling and syntax  Add alternate words or spellings  Try a meta- search engine to get a sample of results from multiple search engines  Try a natural language search tool (some “experts” recommend not using natural language searching)  Try a directory for ideas and to get to know the topic arrangement better  Drop the least important word in the search Narrow Search Results  Try a field search: title, URL, media type, Internet domain name, date, etc.  Try searching for “exact phrases”  Try the advanced features of the search engine  Try using the Boolean AND operator, or the Boolean NOT operator  If you are getting too many inappropriate results (pornography for instance) try a) filtered search engine (kid safe)  Scan the site for more relevant terms  Change the search terms

Keyword Tips  Try synonyms  Try a thesaurus for ideas  Try changing some or all keywords  Try changing the order of the keywords  Use unique words instead of generic words  Nouns may show up more often in titles than adjectives and verbs  Avoid common words in search expressions since they are not indexed (i.e., the, an, and, or, not, but, etc.); sometimes called “stop words”. Unless you’re searching for exact phrases.  Avoid standalone numbers and letters in search expressions, unless essential to the search Practice  Get to know at least one search engine very well  Read all of the online instructions and help screens  Practice with both the simple search option and the advanced search options In General  Set goals  Determine a search strategy  Find out if capitalization is important; spelling is always important  Use special features of individual search tools, such as, search within existing results, search for similar documents, etc.  Don’t worry about the number of hits; if what you want is in the first website or two, then you have been successful  Use the right tool for the job  Focus and keep it simple General Searching Tips  Read the Help screens!  Think about any special needs  Avoid common words (Stop Words)  Use more than one word  Search synonyms/variations to expand  Is it possible to truncate? (Not in Google)  Exclude words to refine using the Boolean NOT  Capitalization? Case Sensitive?  Learn how to search “Phrases” & proper names Browser Tips for Searching  Use the “Find in Page” option of the browser  Use the “Back” button to return a page or two  Use the “History” option to return to pages several levels back by “right clicking”

Webliography Research Tools on the Internet and Searching the Internet Office of Technology and Information Systems West Virginia Department of Education Searching the Internet Prepared by Jennifer Druce Camden County Library Camden County Library April 30, 1998 April 30, 1998 Sure- Fire Surfing: A Crash Course in Search Techniques King Faisal School and Brown University Partnership

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