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Search Engine Review Essay, Research Paper

Web page design

Search Engine review

In this paper I am going to review a few web search engines, and hopefully provide some helpful insight for doing searches on the internet. The first step in obtaining the information you want from the web is structuring the words to search with. For instance, if you wanted to find out how to build furniture out of oak, you might do a search containing the following words: furniture, construction, oak, howto. It s important that you use key words and leave out more general terms. Your first search should be the most specific to what you are looking for, and if it fails, following searches should be more generalized. Many times one search is not enough and you may have to do many similar searches, even on the same search engine to get the results desired. Some search engines called meta searches search other search engines at the same time so entering the search at each search page is not necessary, Dogpile.com is one such search.

After getting a general understanding down as to how to search, it all comes down to favorites. There really is no search engine that is the best, they all have their ups and downs. My personal favorites are Alta Vista and Lycos. I like Alta Vista because it has a huge number of pages and Boolean searches can be used. Boolean searches change the search so it must leave out, include, or choose between one word or another in a search. Boolean searches can also be used to include a word only if it is next to another word. It can make searches 100% more specific, and filter out unwanted content. Boolean symbols are +,-, and the term OR. They are used in front of and between words. You can read more in depth about Boolean searches on Alta Vistas page (www.av.com). Many search engines support Boolean terms. I Like Lycos because it too supports Boolean terms however it searches a lot less number of pages than Alta Vista does. This is helpful for a topic that simply generates to many hits to search through, many times just by going to a search engine with a smaller dbase, more tightly focused topics can be obtained. Personally I don t like Yahoo because it s to user friendly, or cartoony and the results are not numbered. Hotbot is ok, and the results are kept up to date fairly well, Infoseek is ok just like Hotbot, the two are about the same in my opinion. Excite is a good search engine and I use it from time to time, usually if I have trouble finding something it s second on my list. Dogpile.com is also an excellent search engine that combines the best searches into one. It s good if you are having a lot of trouble finding something, but again it s the same as visiting each search separately only on the same page. I find that first rephrasing my search is more helpful than searching over many different search engines at one time, also it can be very time consuming going through all the results a search like Dogpile.com generates, whereas with the correct search on one engine right results are often the first on the list. Below is a chart displaying many characteristics of different searches, and different Boolean terms that can be used in each one.

Database AltaVista Excite HotBot Infoseek Lycos Northern Light


Content Size 250M pages 250M pages & media objects 110M sites 75M pages 50M pages 200M sites

Full-text Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes


Default word OR OR AND or and and

Boolean connectors AND, AND NOT, NEAR AND, AND NOT OR, NOT and, not or, not, adj., near, before, far or, not

Phrase search Quotation marks Quotations marks Quotation marks Quotation marks Quotation marks Quotation marks

Truncation No, use * No No,? for one right-hand letter; * for left-hand No No Automatic

Case sensitive Yes No Yes Yes No No

Words included Use + Use + Use + Use + Use + Use +

Word elimination Use – Use – Use – Use – Use – Use –

Duplicate detection Grouped under one title Yes Grouped under one title Yes Yes Yes

Special features Limit by date, language, or format field followed by a colon Concept searching suggests terms Limit by date, language, location, page depth Find similar searches Search for image and sound files Custom folders

AltaVista Excite HotBot Infoseek Lycos Northern Light

As you can see, all of these searches have their own characteristics and the one you pick is up to you and on what you feel most comfortable with.


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