Searchin' high and low

So could you guys explain the best methods to use on internet search engines. I’m notoriously bad at getting what I really need when searching online. I’ve read most of the “advanced search” criteria, but they don’t make a whole lot of sense, and they aren’t very consistant.

The things I’d like to know:
Do all search engines work the same, and use the same symbols and shortcuts?
Are some search engines better for finding certain types of topics?
What are the essential boolean operators, and wildcards, and how to use them?
Does order matter?

Anything else you skilled internetphiles can offer would be appreciated. Not to sound to dumb, but please include the little details like how commas effect the sorting and crap.

I really like Google. You can find most everything you need out of there. Google

your humble TubaDiva

Almost all of them will respond to the booleans: AND, NOT, OR (or +, -, and /). If you put something in quotes, it will search for that exact phrase. From my searches, it seems the first word is given highest priority, but this may not be true across all search engines. I stick to Yahoo for big topics, Altavista for very specific questions, and Hotbot for audio/video.

For example, I looked up a question on whether men or women have higher IQ’s on Altavista with this search:

+“IQ test” +“gender difference”

It is specific enough to get what I want, but broad enough to get a decent selection of hits. I know I’ll miss out on some pages by using exact phrases, but it’s more important to me to improve the quality of results.

if I wanted to exclude any pages that also talked about racial differeces, I would add:

-“racial difference”

however, this would have also excluded any pages that had a throwaway reference to “racial differences”, so I didn’t add it, although I got a ton of hits for “the Bell Curve” which I didn’t want.

You can usually use * or ? as a wildcard, but I rarely have a use for them unless I’m looking up a name and not sure of the spelling.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

For a quick search I like to use Metacrawler.

its a search engine that searches through all of the other search engines. kind of neat.


How does one inform an “Omniscient”.


Dogpile is cool. It too searches many search engines. Google is a new one that I gave come to like.

I’ve found that when I search on “Topic A”, I get (frinstance) 2,580 hits; but when I search on “Topic A AND Topic B”, I get 8,902 hits. I don’t understand; the AND should give me a smaller number of hits, n’est-ce pas? Am I misunderstanding how the dang thing searches?

Almost all of them will respond to the booleans: AND, NOT, OR (or +, -, and /).

I could be wrong about this but it’s been in my expierence that some of them use booleans differently then others. It always seemed to me that webcrawler used booleans like you would expect them to work. (using the word AND will find pages with both words in it) While it seemed like Yahoo works the opposite way. (using the word AND will find all pages with either word in it)

Formerly known as Nec3f on the AOL SDMB

As far as sheer number of sites indexed, a study was released which ranked Northern Light Search #1 with 20% of all web sites indexed. Alta Vista was #2 with about 18%. From there it dropped off significantly. IIRC, Yahoo was somewhere in the 5-8% range.

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

Oooh! I hope someone can answer that! It happens to me a lot!

Most search engines use the search “Topic A AND Topic B” to find articles with both A and B first, then those that only have A or B. Whereas an “or” would not put “Topic A AND Topic B” first. It’s a little more complicated than just that and all search engines have their quirks.

And be forwarned, a lot of the stuff is junk anyways. I know my web page is and I registered it to be indexed by 18 different search engines. I could bring the internet to it’s knees.

Jim Petty
An oak tree is just a nut that stood it’s ground

Don’t click here

Question for Jimpy:

How do you get your homepage into search engines??

Re: “How do I get listed on search engines”

You go to the home pages of the search engines and at the bottom (occasionally top) there will be a link in small type that says something to the effect of “suggest a link” or “get your page listed”. This link will take you to a page where you input the URL, a Title, a description, and a list of keywords, sometimes they’ll ask you to catagorize the page. Once this is done they’ll send the URL to their spider (a tool the searches the web for new links and catalogs them) and after a few weeks your page should appear in searches.

I like just because I don’t have to deal with all of the ad banners - yet.

“Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’”
E A Poe


I recently learned that Metacrawler has gone totally commercial (which explains why when I ask for specific information, it says: “Go to for BOOLEAN”. I understand many more search engines are also going commercial…which means, for a fee, you get those web referrals others are seeking…which may have little or nothing to do with your search.

The best thing to do is check out all the search engines...and a few new ones have been suggested to me here. (Thanks)

“There will always be somebody who’s never read a book who’ll know twice what you know.” - D.Duchovny

It’s nice to hear that Northern Light has a good score for number of sites indexed.

And it helps with the AND oddity mentioned by CKDextHavn by trying, more or less successfully, to categorize the hits it finds. Sometimes the categories are pretty much useless, but they often help.

On the other hand, the biggest problem with most search engines is that they index words rather than concepts. I know I’ve seen a search engine that at least suggests synonyms for your search terms, but I can’t find it again, Can anybody help?

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

More search engines than you can shake a stick at…

Brian O’Neill
CMC International Records

ICQ 35294890
AIM Scrabble1
Yahoo Messenger Brian_ONeill

In answer to part of your question, each search engine works differently.

For example, “google” mentioned earlier, measures how often other sites link to a particular site.

Yahoo! uses indexing & I find it to be the best when searching for a company or organization.

I’m not sure what Inforseek does, but it’s different that the other two noted above, and I find it most useful for locating a topical or informational website, like fansites or personal web pages.

And, um, I think askjeeves uses some kind of natual language parser. Not sure about that, though.

This info may clariy why you get very different results at different search engines.

Try this fun test: do a search on yahoo!. when results are returned, scroll ALL the way down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see links to other search engines. Clicking the link will perform your search on that engine. kind of cool for comparison purposes.