Lesson 12   The "Best" Search Tool

       So...what is the best search tool? Unfortunately, this is not a simple question. The term "best" can be very ambiguous in meaning which leads to the complexity of the question. The word "best" could mean largest, fastest, most popular, most accurate, or some combination of these characteristics. Depending upon which meaning is used, the answer to the question varies.

       You undoubtedly hear the opinions of people regarding the "best search tool". Although a search tool works well for one person, there is no guarantee that another person with different needs, interests and experience will reach the same conclusion about the capabilities of that tool.

       Many people develop preferences for particular search tools. After finding a search tool or two that they really like, they normally use those one or two tools exclusively. This is fairly typical behavior and will most likely happen to you at some point. The most important factors to consider when selecting a search tool is your comfort level with the tool and the ability to find the information that you are looking for. But you should keep an open mind about your preferences because the web is changing every day, and a better tool for you may arrive.

       To illustrate this point, take a look at the history of the Webcrawler program. Webcrawler was the first search engine and appeared in 1994. It was the most popular search tool for over a year, but it was not able to develop as fast as other tools like the search engine Lycos which soon dominated the popularity contest. There are still a few people using these tools, but now a Webcrawler relation named Excite has eclipsed both of them in amount of content and popularity.

Here is a list of common search tools you can explore (in addition to Yahoo! and AltaVista). Keep in mind that there are many others out there!

Basic Searching Suggestions:
  • Become familiar with the basic search strategies common to most search engines.
  • Use more than one search tool. You will need a comprehensive set of tools to effectively search the Internet as no single tool is "familiar" with all web resources..
  • Read the Help, Options, Rules and Restrictions for each search tool you use. Not only do they differ from tool to tool, this will help you to be a more effective searcher.
  • Be as specific as possible. Use words that are distinctive, that uniquely identify what you are looking for.

Next: Conclusion
Previous: Lesson 11 - Fact or Fiction

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