Search Engines, search terms and effective searching

The Internet has tens of millions of sites and is constantly growing. To find your little piece of information out of all of these millions of sites, you may want to try two basic approaches: a search engine or a subject guide

Subject guides are fine for browsing general topics, but for specific information use a search engine. All search engines perform 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.  My Yahoo, My MSN, iGoogle are all examples of "portals".  A portal allows you to customize the page with content you want to see (RSS feeds, news, weather, sports, etc) along with your search engine.

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 metatsearch/metacrawlers are:  

Effective Searching

Boolean search terms – when you are typing in a search window, you can use these tips to narrow or widen your search.  These choices are also found when using Advanced Search on most search engines.

AND or + matches all the words or phrases entered (most of the sites recognize +)

Example: Brown and bear or brown + bear this will search for sites with the word brown and bear and brown bear

OR matches any of the words or phrases

Example: brown or bear this will search for sites with the word brown, bear or brown bear

NOT or - avoids specified words or phrases (most sites recognize -)

Example: bear – brown Will search for sites with the word bear

“ ” around a group of words designates them as an exact phrase to be matched. This is the most common “Boolean” search to use and the easiest to remember.

Example: “brown bear” will search for sites with the phrase brown bear.

* serves as a wildcard for multiple letters.

Example: *bear would search for bear, bears, bearded, bear’s

Try out Google's Wonder Wheel - watch this video on Teacher Tube

Recommended search engines for K-6 students:  I recommend starting with these as they are filtered results. 

Yahooligans! Modified, screened version of - but lots of distractions with videos, games and ads

KidsClick!! Sites reviewed by librarians. No ads. Includes lessons on searching, searching for pictures and sounds  - nice, easy to use site but does have games and other distractions.  But does a nice job of returning information

Here is a new one - Sweet Search - pre-screened and only searches 35,000 sites.  Be sure and check out the Sweet Sites for Teachers

Nice article on Tech & Learning on using Google Advanced Search with students - great instructions for all ages!

For the rest of us big grin  These are just the most popular and by no means the only ones out there! - also includes babelfish to translate

Last modified: Monday, December 23, 2013, 3:32 PM