How to Search the Web
A Guide To Search Tools


Terry A. Gray

This article evaluates several Internet search and subject search engines such as Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Yahoo, and several others. Personally, I tend to use Dogpile. This search engine compiles over 15 of the major Internet Search engines to search for the subject you are looking for. As in most Internet searches, a simple keyword search may retrieve many sites that are not relevant to your search. Most of the search engines noted in the article also include an index of subject headings that the user can choose from. The more popular engines such as Alta Vista and Excite also allow for Boolean searches; which allow the operator to include phrases or compound topics (such as horse and carriage). One of the better features of Alta Vista is that it lists the results in a priority order. For example it will list the web pages that have the words in the actual page title first, then list pages with subtitles, and then list pages that may have that word somewhere in the document. It is also important when performing searches to be cautious of case sensitivity. If you were searching for pages that have information about boulders, you need to be careful the search is not listed as ‘Boulder,’ doing so may result in the retrieval of pages specifically about Bolder Colorado. If you are a general search, you would be better off beginning with Yahoo, but when looking for more specific information, Alta Vista may afford you better results.

Since we are all educators, I offer you one more educational specific ‘search engine.’ It is the Big Chalk library. Though not found in the article, it is a fantastic educational resource. You are able to look up for topics as they appeared in pictures, newspapers, magazines, journals, audio/video, or even maps. It allows for a more specific and relevant search. This site allows you to search for your topic during specific dates, places, or reading levels. A Boolean search is also available. Have fun!


Jason Bates