Efficient Internet Searches

Tip #1: Search in more than one search engine.

What you use to search depends on your topic.

The list on NoodleTools provides an excellent summary of places to look depending on your research topic:

Kid-Safe Search Engines

Frequently Used Search Engines

  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Ask
  • Alta Vista
  • Technorati is a search engine that searches blogs. Example of use: Technorati is a better place to find information about “Alan November” than Google because if you search for him in Google, the top 8 links are owned by Alan November, so most of the information was written by Alan November. In the blogs you can read what people are saying about Alan November, not what Alan November is saying about himself.

Tip #2: Use advanced search techniques. Use essential keywords and Boolean (Not/Or/And) strategies.

By using a variety of commands in Google Advanced Search, you can narrow searches for more appropriate information. Try these Google Search helps:

  • Phrase search “” – By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. For instance, “evaluate information sources” results in different web pages than evaluate information sources.
  • Search within a specific site – Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, the query [ iraq site:nytimes.com ] will return pages about Iraq but only from nytimes.com.
  • Terms to exclude (-) – Attaching a minus sign (the NOT operator) immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results. For instance, a search for Jordan results in very different results than a search for Jordan -basketball.
  • Fill in the blanks (*) – The query [ Obama voted * on the * bill ] will give you stories about different votes on different bills. Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.
  • Search exactly as is (+) – By attaching a + immediately before a word (remember, don’t add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it. Putting double quotes around a single word will do the same thing.
  • The OR operator – Google’s default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type ‘OR’ in ALL CAPS). For example, [ San Francisco Giants 2004 OR 2005 ] will give you results about either one of these years, whereas [ San Francisco Giants 2004 2005 ] (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page. The symbol | can be substituted for OR. (The AND operator, by the way, is the default, so it is not needed.)

Tip #3: The hits at the top of a search list in a search engine such as Google or Bing are not always the best sources of information.

Google ranks websites on the number of links to a site and on the number of times a site is visited. Frequency does not equal quality or validity.

Also remember that those at the top of a Google or Bing search hit list and those on the right side are advertisements for web sites. The owners of those sites have paid to be at the top or right side of the search engine hit list. In Google these are labeled Ads. In Bing they are labeled Sponsored sites.

Tip #4: Read the information in the hits before clicking on a link to the web site.

Does the language and depth of information seem appropriate for your research purpose?

*** For additional information see Evaluate Information Sources ***

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