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Ten essential rules for searching the Internet with a search engine
Did You Know …
Finding a needle (or 7,079 pages on needles) on the web
A study by the NEC Research Institute says the Internet has exploded to more than 320 million Web pages, an estimate that does not include millions of pages that are protected by passwords or "search walls" that block access to browsers or search engines. The study indicates that the HotBot search engine has the most comprehensive index of the Web, but even so, covers only about 34 percent of the indexable pages. Coverage of some of the other search engines includes: AltaVista (28%); Northern Light (20%); Excite (14%); Lycos (3%). One of the report's co-authors says that the Web's data explosion may be better controlled by the "meta-search engines," such as Meta-Crawler and Ahoy!, which have developed thinking techniques that sense what readers are looking for and seek out pages not found on most indexes.
(AP 3 Apr 98)
Everyone's telling you that the Internet is full of information. The AP release, shown above, claims that there are at least 320 million pages of information on the web today. But if you've ever tried to find anything that you're interested in, chances are that all you got for hours of "web surfin" was a lot of nothing.
Optimizing your use of “search engines” can certainly pay dividends in your quest for information. An article in the November 1997 issue of insight “The search is on. Using Internet search engines” suggested using the more advanced features available on many search engines. Here are ten common-sense suggestions that you can use to help you further optimize the use of search engines.
Ten Essential Rules for Web Surfers ...
1. Know where to go.
Many search engines organize web sites by categories or directories – these are best if you want to quickly find information on a general topic (i.e., jobs).
2. Think small.
Look for small, specific databases. For specialized search engines and reference tools check out Internet Sleuth (www.isleuth.com) and All-in-One Search at (www.albany.net/ allinone).
3. Be specific.
The best queries consist of terms, words or phrases that exist only in the documents you want. Stay away from common words like "baseball" or you'll end up with thousands of useless links. Use as many unique keywords as you can.
4. Learn the lingo
Use quotation marks for names and phrases. Learn to use Boolean operators such as "and", "or" and "not". So you can look for 'comic books AND Superman' or 'comic books NOT Batman' for example. Unfortunately the rules for Boolean searches are not standardized so you have to check out the "help" section of each search engine to make sure what the Boolean search rules are.
5. Watch Your Spelling
Yeah, yeah, obvious eh. But "potatoe" won't get you as much as "potato". And "Dan Quail" won't get you anything on "Dan Quayle" - you know, that VP guy.
6. Launch Multiple Browser Windows
Start up Netscape, then select "New Browser" from the File menu. In Internet Explorer, select "new Window" from the File menu. Use one window to show you the search engines results, then use the other one to track down the links from the first window.
7. Keep Moving
Don't look past the first page of search engine results, you know, the first ten or so links. It's better, and faster, to try another search using different keywords or refine the ones you've used..
8. Leave your mark
When you find a site that looks interesting, bookmark it or simply print the page. Don't linger. Stay focused on the hunt.
9. Check the URL.
If the web address has a tilde, or it's really long, that's a tip-off that you're looking at a personal web page. Not necessarily the best source of info.
10. Get help.
The rules may differ from one search engine to the next or they may have changed since the last time you where at this engine. Even if you don't like to ask for directions some real gems are waiting for you. All you gotta do is ask.
Like most things, finding what you want on the Web doesn't have to be “hit-and-miss”. Learn to use the tools and reap the rewards.