Most people rely on keyword search engines to find information on the Web.
Search engines are plentiful, free, and easy to use. The drawback is that using one keyword will often return hundreds of useless Web sites. The best way to improve the results of keyword searches is to go
beyond simple searching and learn to construct advanced searches.
Below are some advanced search techniques.
- Use quotation marks around phrases to keep words together ("financial aid").
- Study your favorite search tool's guidelines for using "and" and "or."
- Place a + before a word or phrase that must appear in the results, and a - before any term that must be excluded.
For a concise, easy-to-follow explanation of Boolean search
logic, visit ADAM's Boolean Searching page.
Follow Research Zone's recommended links below to explore these concepts.
is . . . a Search Engine?
Gives an overview of the components of a search engine
Introduction to Search
Engines by Kansas City Public Library
Provides clear summaries and reviews of the most popular search engines. Includes a comparative features-summary chart.
How to Search the Web: A Guide To
Search Tools by Terry A. Gray
This in-depth guide to the popular
search engines walks you through both simple and advanced searches.
Guide to Research with the WWW: Search Engines by Craig Branham
Offers a thorough guide to crafting a search, with examples
the World Wide Web: Strategies, Analyzing Your Topic, Choosing Search Tools
by University of California, Berkeley
This comprehensive tutorial offers a useful outline for searching in stages-a "first pass, second pass, third pass" approach. Also includes sample searches for major search engines.
The Spider's Apprentice: How To Use Web
Search Engines by Linda Barlow
This well-organized and easy-to-follow tutorial is divided into six sections: Tips, FAQ, Planning the Best Search
Strategy, How Search Engines Work, Web-Search Wizard, and In-Depth Analysis of
Popular Search Engines
An exhaustive list of search tools.
A metasearch engine searches several major
search engines simultaneously, providing results based on the keyword(s) you
provide. This can save you time, but don't use them exclusively. Why
not? Because the results can be deceiving. Because search engines do not all use the same query language, one or more of them might not "understand" your query. The metasearch site might return "zero results found," when in fact a query done on one particular search engine would have returned good results.
For thorough coverage of metasearch engines-what they are, how they
work, and how to choose one-visit theMeta-Search
Engines section of the Web research tutorial by Univesity of California, Berkeley.
Also called "megasites" or "webliographies,"
these sites offer comprehensive database searches, general reference links, or subject-specific links that take you beyond what is offered by search engines and general directories.
supersites such as Infomine and NorthernLight will
search extensive database collections.
- Reference supersites are one-stop shopping for multiple
reference tools. Xplore Reference
and Research-It! are examples of
- Subject-specific supersites, such as ERIC, an education clearinghouse, provide filtering and expert-picked resources for particular disciplines or areas of interest.
Follow RearchZone's recommended links below to explore "supersites" in depth:
General World Wide Web Searching by University of California, Berkeley
A selection of only the
best in "webliographies," subject databases, virtual libraries, and full-text
Beyond Surfing: Tools and
Techniques for Searching the Web (Appendix 1: Browsing Tools: Subject Trees,
Review Sites and Subject Guides) by Kathleen Webster and Kathryn Paul
Well-annotated links to subject trees, review sites, and subject
Safe Surfing Sites
by Needle in a CyberStack
A great collection of student-appropriate links for research.
Collection of academic supersites "chosen for selectivity,
breadth and depth of coverage, scope, and authority."
Select: Searching the Internet
Supersite collections grouped into six
categories: Searchable Indexes, Subject Catalogs, Annotated Directories, Subject
Guides, and Specialized Directories
All-in-One Search Pages
More search and reference supersites-try a different one each time you surf the Web!