Tools for Searching the Internet

Search Engines | Subject Guides | Meta Search Tools
Find Businesses | Find Images or Pictures | Find People | Find Places (Maps) | Find Weather Info

The Internet can be a pretty neat place, but sometimes trying to find the information you're looking for is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Take heart, there's help! This page includes a collection of links to tools for searching the Internet.

You may also want to look at our tips on searching the Net, or our glossary of search terms. Also be sure to check out our information on how to evaluate what you find on the Internet.

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Search Engines

These huge databases index the content of the Web and are constantly on the lookout for new sites to add. Below are a few of the most popular search engines. Try a few of them and see which one(s) you like, and which give you the best results. You'll soon develop a favorite.

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Subject Guides

These annotated resources help organize the information on the Web in a way that makes sense. This is a big job, as you might imagine, and subject guides may not have the absolute latest information. If you're looking for information on a specific topic, you may want to try finding a specialized subject guide that organizes links for that particular subject.

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Meta Search Tools

Meta search tools will check more than one subject guide or search engine for your search question. Using a meta search tool can be a handy shortcut. Be warned, most of the meta search tools are experimental, and because they search so many sites for your question, getting a response may take a bit longer. If you're curious, check out this well-written Guide to Meta-Search Engines.

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Finding Businesses on the Internet

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Finding Images or Pictures on the Internet

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Finding People on the Internet

There are several good online services where you can track people down and find their e-mail address or even their mailing address. Warning: these companies make no guarantees that the information you will find is up-to-date or correct, so keep that in mind as you search.

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Tips on Searching the Internet

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Glossary of Search Terminology

Algorithm — A logical procedure for solving a problem, by breaking the problem down into small steps.

Boolean logic — Allows you to carefully design a search query by using AND, OR and NOT to link words together. For example:

origami AND cranes will find documents that include both of these words.
origami OR paper folding will find documents that include either of these words.
Macintosh NOT computer will find documents that include the word Macintosh but not the word Computer.

Hits — The number of documents the search engine or catalog retrieved in response to your search.

Intelligent agent — A program that gathers information for you automatically, on a regular schedule. You set up an agent program by answering a series of questions that it uses to find out about you and your preferences. Then you sit back and it does the work!

Meta-search — A search tool that allows you to search more than one search engine at a time.

Natural language query — A question that you ask, using normal language, such as "What is the population of Arkansas?" The computer then translates the question into a format that it can understand.

Push technology — Uses e-mail or other tools to actively provide you with information, instead of waiting for you to go get the information (known as pull technology).

Query — A question you ask a search engine or online database.

Search Engine — An Internet search tool that indexes millions of Web sites.

Stop word — A frequently-used word that search engines do not search for, because it would retrieve too many documents. Examples of common stop words are a, and, and the. If you use a stop word in your query, it will be ignored.

Subject Guide — Also known as a catalog, this is a search tool that tries to organize Internet and Web sites into categories of information. Most subject guides are maintained by human beings who find new Web sites, evaluate them, and then add them. Subject guides tend to be better-organized, but usually hold information about fewer Web sites, than search engines.

Web spider — An automated tool used by search engines. Web spiders search the Internet for new Web sites and make sure older Web sites have not changed location or disappeared. The information they find is added to the search engine’s index of Web sites.

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Evaluating what you find

Once you find a Web document that looks helpful, you need to evaluate the document to discover how well it meets your needs. Remember that almost everything you find on the Internet was put there by human beings, and because human beings make mistakes, you can't automatically assume that the information you find on the Web is correct.

When you are evaluating a Web site or Web page that you found on the Internet, consider these factors:

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This page last updated: 10 August 2010
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