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- Information verified and updated June, 2001

The Internet has tens of millions of sites at this point; growth is exponential and bibliographic control does not exist. To find the proverbial needle in this immense haystack (or tiny fly in the Web), you may use two basic approaches: a search engine or a subject guide such as Yahoo, Snap, LookSmart, and Magellan. Subject guides are fine for browsing general topics, but for specific information use a search engine. Your output can be greatly improved by spending time learning the nuances of several search tools. Their on-line help pages have in-depth information.

All search engines do keyword searches against a database, but various factors influence the results from each. Size of the database, frequency of update, search capability and design, and speed may lead to amazingly different results. Recent addition of new content, redesign and partnership changes have fulfilled the mission of the new name: portals. This name implies a starting point and central location for all uses of the Web. We prepared these documents to help users understand the differences between some of the most popular search engines.

There are also metasearch sites or metacrawlers that send searches to several search engines. Since metasearch engines do not allow for input of many search variables, their best use is to find hits on obscure items or to see if something is on the Internet. Some of the best-known ones are Dogpile, Mamma, Metacrawler, and SavvySearch.

Quick Reviews
Click on a search engine name to go to that site. Click on "Our Review" for a more detailed review.

AltaVista - Our Review - Summary: one of the largest and most comprehensive search engines available, it searches the entire HTML file.

Excite - Our Review - Summary: concept searching is a strong feature for narrowing down the search.

GoogleOur Review – Summary: Perhaps the largest search engine on the Web, capable of searching 1,247,340,000 web pages.

HotBot - Our Review - Summary: has some unique search features that make this a very useful search engine, including sorting results by date or media type.

Lycos - Our Review - Summary: one of the oldest search tools on the Internet, but keeping up-to-date with a variety of result options available.

Northern Light - Our Review - Summary: the newest one with good, extensive content and a feature for classification of hits by division into custom search folders.

For more information on any of these search engines, see the help files located on their sites.

See also Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Showdown
and
their comparison of search engine reviews.

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Quick Reviews

Feature
Comparison


Detailed
Reviews

 -AltaVista

 -Excite

 -Google

 -HotBot

 -Lycos

 -Northern Light

 

Revised July 05, 2001

Location: • HomeWeb SearchIntro to Search Engines

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