Search Engines: Better Ways to Find Meaningful Results

Introduction

Search engines are extremely popular. We all use them. We google the Internet for information. In fact the use of the name google as a verb illustrates how prevalent search engines are in our lives.

However, searching is more than googling. Enter any word or topic and a search engine returns thousands of results.

How useful is this? Do you quickly find the information you want? Do you get quality information?

If your work relies on research then this can be a problem. You don’t want to sieve through thousands of Web sites. You want a more efficient way to narrow your search to find meaningful results.

There is a new bread of search engine that tries to alleviate this problem. They return results by category.

Enter Christmas into Google. I received 134,000,000 results. That is a lot of results to sift through!

PreviewSeek.com

Enter Christmas into PreviewSeek.com. This search engine returned 312,000,000 results. That is a daunting amount of sites to sift through!

However, PreviewSeek (www.previewseek.com) does an excellent job categorizing search results. This engine categorized the Christmas results into the following categories: Holidays, Around, Cards, Story, Santa Claus, Gifts, Ideas, Lights, Crafts, Tree, Christian, Celebrations, Kids Domain, and Encyclopedia. The Show More link displays more categories.

Categories are useful. They refine your search and display categories that you may not have thought related to your query.

Clusty.com

Enter Christmas into Clusty.com. I received 61,680,010 results.

Clusty organized these results into clusters. Clusters are categorized into three groups: topics, sources, and URLs.

The initial set of clusters by topic are: Cards, Christmas Tree, Christmas Recipes, Kids, Christmas Carols, Christmas Stories, Lights, Ornaments, Merry Christmas, and Clip Art.

Clusty even returned some clusters under the heading Shopping. These clusters are: Holiday Ornaments & DÃ?©cor, Collectables, Dinnerware & Serveware, Children’s DVDs & Videos, and Costumes & Accessories.

Sources list the results by search engine. The initial list of clusters by source are: AskJeeves, BizRate, GigaBlast, Looksmart, Lycos, MSN, MSN Search, Open Directory, Wikipedia, and Wisenut.

Clusters by URL are quite interesting. It is an aspect of searching that I never really thought about. It lists results by the type of domain. For example, the initial list of clusters by URL are: .com, .net, .org, .uk, .edu, .gov, and .ca.

This is quite useful. For example, depending on the type of research I am doing, sites only sponsored by the government (.gov) or sites from Canada (.ca) may be relevant.

Snap

Snap.com is an interesting search engine. In addition to categorizing my search, it also highlighted current news stories either about Christmas or stories containing the word Christmas. The categories included were: christmas, christmas songs, christmas cards, christmas crafts, christmas gifts, nightmare before christmas, christmas carols, and christmas poems.

Teoma

Teoma.com also uses a form of categorization. It divides search results into:
âÂ?¢Results – Relevant Web pages
âÂ?¢Refine – Suggestions to narrow your search, and
âÂ?¢Resources – Link collections from experts and enthusiasts

Results returned 61,680,00 Web sites relating to Christmas. Some of the Refine section results included: Kids Domain, Free Christmas Printables, Christmas Stories, and Greeting Cards. Some of the listings under the resources heading included: Christmas Wonderland, December Holidays, Homework Hotline – Holiday 4 Kids, Arbor Day . . ., Christmas Fun, and A Holy Christmas.

Directories

People are still the best component for finding meaningful Web sites. Directories where people share their bookmarks with others provide excellent results. Tools that allow you to share bookmarks include: Yahoo’s My Web (myweb2.search.yahoo.com), BackPackIt (www.backpackit.com), and delicious (del.icio.us).

del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site. It allows you to store and share bookmarks. You can include tag descriptions to a bookmark to categorize your bookmarks.

For example, I may share some bookmarks about political blogs. I may use the following tags: “polical blogs, politics, rants and raves”. When a person searches by political blogs or rants and raves, my bookmarks and other people’s bookmarks that include these tags are returned.

Wiki sites may also be used to share and collect bookmarks. A wiki site is a Web site where people can edit and contribute information. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) is one of the most popular.

Wikispaces (www.wikispaces.org) and wikispace (www.wikispace.org) allow you to create a wiki site. For example, I am in the process of creating a wiki site that lists useful sites and information about the English language (American, Australian, British, and Canadian English). Anybody that views this site has the ability to add bookmarks, tips, and corrections. This collaborative nature is useful for research and collecting meaningful bookmarks.

The Web contains a plethora of information. Search engines help sieve through this information but we still have a long way to go.

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