Individual Search Engines are “regular” search engines. They use “spiders” to traverse the internet. These spiders are computer programs that travel around the internet, going from link to link, and writing down every word on every page. So when you do a search for, say, “mercury,” the search engine will list every page that has the word “mercury” somewhere on it. But it won’t know whether you’re talking about a mineral, a planet, a character from roman mythology or a type of car — so make your search as specific as possible.
- Google : Google is currently the most popular search engine on the web. Google sorts it’s results by what it calls “PageRank.” The more times people on the internet link to a page, the higher it’s rank. So it’s sort of like a popularity contest… and sometimes the least popular pages are the ones you’re looking for — so be specific as possible in your search! If you need help, ask your librarian!
- Bing : Bing is another Microsoft product. Bing uses “cookies” to find the most relevant search items. Therefore the search results will differ from person to person, dependent on their search history.
Meta Search Engines are search engines that search search engines. What?! Instead of just going out and searching for pages, meta search engines ask other search engines for their results. Then the meta search engine compares the results from the individual search engines. The meta search engine then sorts the results from all the search engines, and the links it thinks are best are placed at the top.
- Dogpile : Dogpile searches Google, Yahoo, and Yandex all at the same time. It then allows you to view the results by relevance (best matches on top). Alternatively, you can view the results by search engine to see the difference between Google and Yahoo!
- Yippy : Like Dogpile, Yippy searches a number of search engines. However, it has one added benefit: it automatically attempts to categorize the pages that are returned. Thus, if you searched for bears, you’d see categories on the left for the Chicago Bears, The Berenstein Bears, and bears the fuzzy mammals. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it’s worth trying if you can’t seem to get good results.
Directories are another way of finding information on the internet. While search engines automatically search through text, directories are collections of links organized by subject. Since this is done by people who actually look at the site, the results will often be much more relevant; i.e. what you’re looking for. But you won’t get as many results.
- Yahoo Directory : Yahoo is the web’s oldest large-scale directory. Google stopped theirs in 2011.
- The Internet Public Library : The Internet Public Library has collection of high-quality links to popular topics. Also see their pathfinders page.
- Librarians’ Index to the Internet : The Librarians’ Index to the Interet is a Yahoo-style directory developed by — you guessed it — librarians.
- Dewey Browse : These are websites for K-12 that have been organized by the Dewey Decimal System
- EasyBib Research : This is in Beta format for now. This website searches for your topic, and will state if it is a credible source, and then will also cite the source for you in MLA format.