Index Search Pages Search Links SearchHelper
Using the Best Directories and Search
Which search tool to use and for what purposes
How to choose your search terms and syntax
(See also SEARCHHELPER
page for Net newbies)
NOTE: Search engine guide will be updated in
October 2006 - Google and AlltheWeb will be added
BASIC SEARCH INFORMATION
Preliminary Searching Hints
Choosing Search Terms and Syntax
Which Search Engine or Directory to use?
HOW TO USE....
AltaVista (Simple and
NOTE: This article has not been updated since 2002. In 2006,
we will add other search engines. Meanwhile, you can read about more
PRELIMINARY SEARCHING HINTS
1. Choose a search engine, directory or library in accordance with
the kind of search you are doing and the kind of results you are seeking.
2. Consider: Are you looking for a Web site? Information that might
be contained within Usenet? Academic articles that may only be
retrievable with gopher?
3. Determine your aims: Do you want a specific hard-to-find document
on an esoteric subject, or general information on a broader topic? Do
you need to search the entire Web, or is what you are seeking likely
to be found on a number of sites, or only the most popular sites?
4. In making your choice, determine whether the information you are
looking for is likely to be in a page's title or first paragraph, or
deeper within the document or site.
5. Use a search engine's advanced features, if available, and read the
help files if you are unclear about its searching procedure.
CHOOSING SEARCH TERMS AND SYNTAX
1. Enter synonyms, alternate spellings and alternate forms (e.g.
dancing, dances) for your search terms.
2. Enter all the singular or unique terms which are likely to be
in the document or site you are seeking.
3. Avoid using very common terms (e.g. Internet, people) which
may lead to a preponderance of irrelevant search results.
4. Determine how your search engine uses capitals and plurals, and
enter capitalized or plural forms of your search words if appropriate.
5. Use a phrase or proper name if possible to narrow your search
and therefore retrieve more relevant results (unless you want a large
number of results)
6. Use multiple operators (e.g. AND, NOT) if a search engine
allows you to do so.
7. If you receive too many results, refine and improve your search.
(After perusing the results, you may become aware of how to use
NOT - e.g. Boston AND hockey AND NOT Bruins)
8. Pay attention to proper spacing and punctuation in your search
syntax (i.e. no space when using + means +term not + term)
WHICH SEARCH ENGINE OR DIRECTORY?
Do you want....
to browse a subject area?
USE Yahoo, Lookmart or the Open Directory
to search Newsgroups?
USE Yahoo, Google Newsgroups, AltaVista, HotBot
to include older gopher files in your search?
USE Webcrawler or Altavista
to search as much as the Web as possible?
USE Google or AlltheWeb.com
to search every word on a site or in a document?
USE AltaVista, or HotBot
to locate an obscure or hard-to-find document?
to locate a fairly popular site or easy-to-find document?
USE Webcrawler or Yahoo
to retrieve a large number of results?
USE AltaVista or a metasearch engine such
as Savvy Search or Metacrawler
to retrieve few but relevant results?
to search only titles, urls or keywords?
USE Webcrawler, Yahoo OR Alta Vista
to specify in what part of a site your search terms will occur
(including titles, urls and summaries)?
USE AltaVista (adv) or InfoSeek
to search reviewed and evaluated sites?
USE Looksmart's select directory)
See Windweaver's Search Tool Reviews for reviews and
of other search engines and directories not described here.
SIZE of database: small
SEARCHES: Web, Newsgroups
SCOPE: searches keywords only
RELEVANCE: not organized by relevance
SPECIAL FEATURES: numerous directories available;
has newsgroup searches; passes on searches to
WHEN TO USE : browsing, subject categories, overviews of topic
WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN USING YAHOO: + - ""
Yahoo has many specialized search sites and
YAHOO HOME PAGE: http://www.yahoo.com
Use + before a word which must appear
Use - before a word which must NOT appear
Enclose phrases in double quotation marks ("this is a phrase")
Use wildcards * to specify a root and retrieve various word forms
(e.g. sing* will retrieve sing, sings, singing, singer - but
singe, singular, singularity etc.)
To search within a title use t:word (e.g. t:astronomy)
To search within a url, use u:word (e.g. u:harvard)
CAPITALIZATION: Capitalization doesn't matter.
ORDER: Combine search operators in this order: + - t:
u: " " *
Rather than type in your search terms, choose whether you want to
include all search terms (AND), only one of your search terms (OR)
or an exact phrase.
SEE ALSO Windweaver's Yahoo Review
See also our SEARCHHELPER page for Net
And visit Windweaver's online Net Search BOOKSTORE
- 70+ Net search
resource books and directories. Secure ordering, discounts via Amazon.com!
NEXT: Search syntax for AltaVista,
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