Search the Internet — Wilton Library
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Search the Internet

Search the Internet

There are many sorts of searching tools on the World Wide Web:

Search Directories (Yahoo and Open Directory are examples)
Human beings categorize by subject the Web sites submitted to them by Webmasters. Using a directory for your Internet search makes sense particularly when you want to “browse” topics, when you want to avoid irrelevant search results, and when your search terms are fairly broad.
Search Engines (Google and Bing are examples)
Sites are included in the database mechanically. Pure search engines work best when your search terms are narrow or precise and particularly when you make use of the advanced searching techniques recommended by the search engine site.
Meta Search Engines (Dogpile and IxQuick are examples)
Search multiple search engines and directories at once. Features vary between meta search engines, but many allow for duplicate removal, a choice of which searching engines to use, and how the results are formatted.
Search Clients (Google Chrome and SeaMonkey are examples)
These are programs which reside on your computer and work much like meta search engines, but they allow you the option of saving searches, search specific types of search engines, and organizing the results into printable reports. These tools are especially useful for those who use the Web a lot.
Subject-Specific Search Engines (Visit LSU’s list.)
These search engines are specifically designed to search only information on a specific topic or of a specific type (say, only art history or only company press releases).
Multimedia Search Engines (Songza and Google Images are examples)
Search specifically for graphics, movies, audio files, and other non-text content on the Web. Useful if you are looking for something specific, but remember that most of these files are copyrighted by their creators, so please check before “borrowing” them for use on your Web page.
Search for People (Anywho and Yahoo! People Search are examples)
Probably the most inexact and frustrating type of search is for a person. There are a few directories out there, but none come close to being comprehensive.

Cautions: You may miss the Internet site most relevant to answering your questions if you search only using a directory, but you may be overwhelmed by large numbers of irrelevant returns if you search only using a pure search engine. Most quests for information will benefit from using a combination of Internet search tools.

Looking for information from another country? Try Search Engine Colossus to find country-specific search engines.

A very useful introduction to finding information on the Internet was prepared by librarians at the University of California at Berkeley. Excellent comparisons and explanations of search engine and subject directory features are available at Search Engine Showdown (by Greg Notess) and SearchEngineWatch (by Danny Sullivan). And to find more than you ever wanted to know about search engines, stop by the About.com Web Search (by Kevin Elliot).