Search engines

OK, you Internet experts, I’ve got a question - is there any search engine that will follow the search criteria given to it? Every one I’ve tried goes of on its own little tangent, mostly ignoring my instructions.

I have particular trouble with telling the engine to exclude sites containing certain words - generally the engine totally ignores these. I seem to recall that back in prehistoric times search engines like Netscape were pretty good at this, but the recent ones seem to have lost this ability.

Any advice?

Google does this just fine for me with the syntax:

> searchterm otherterm -butnotthisterm

What syntax are you using to exclude terms?

That’s a consequence of the engine expanding your input to a list of keywords* which it then checks against its database. It is sometimes possible to get past that initial processing with a search term like +“thing” or “+thing” (with the quotes). AltaVista was the last search engine I know of to use the search string literally, and it has been dead and buried for a while now (points to Yahoo! search).

  • Google always worked that way, and that’s part of what makes it good (or bad, depending on how useful it is for any particular search). It was initially “trained” using the data it collected when it browsed web sites. Since then there has been a lot of tweaking to how it learns keywords. As an example, one of the first searches I did on the then-beta Google was Nadiuska. The first page of results was filled with “hits” for Late Night. A perfect example of an inference engine being led down the wrong path.

That’s exactly what I use.

Netscape was a browser (the ancestor of Firefox), not a search engine.

“Top Hits” for a search engine, can they be bought? Does money help direct the search? Is this a possibility?

I’m interested in this question too. Even though search engines proclivity to second guess the words you’re using is generally quite convenient, it sometimes make them totally useless, and quote marks or minus signs are nowadays typically ignored.


You can buy ad space from Google. Small, mostly text stuff at the very top and to the side. Most people ignore those or even block them.

Google is quite secretive about paying them to up your search ranking, but apparently it does do it to some extent. I.e., if you are a big ad buyer, your web site gets more prominence.

Another way is to hire a search engine optimization company (SEO). They will tweak your web pages, have other sites link to yours, etc., to get a better ranking.

SEO companies are mostly worthless. What they sell is a combination of common sense that you should have been able to figure out without the big bucks, and tricks to try to outsmart the Google (et al.) ratings that Google will even more quickly counter-outsmart. Oh, and sometimes they’re just outright scams, like the SEO company will operate its own search engine, with results determined 100% by who’s paying them, and then they’ll point to that search engine as proof that their services work.

What’s the exact thing you’re searching for? The - sign should work…