Lesson 5   Yahoo Searching - Basics


       The Yahoo! database can also be searched using a keyword search. You would do this when you have something very specific in mind that you want to search for. Let's begin by learning about the basic components of this kind of search.


Basic Anatomy of a Keyword Search

There are 3 basic components/steps to initiating an Internet search:

  1. The Search Entry Form.
    This is the most basic component of the user interface. It is the place where the user inputs the search criteria. The Search Entry Form usually consists of an empty space on a form-like interface. The user should move the mouse pointer to the empty Search Entry Box and click the mouse button. The user then simply types in the search criteria, either words, phrases, or both.

  2. The SEARCH, SUBMIT, or GO button. Note that these are different button labels for the same function, depending on which search tool you are using. Yahoo! has a SEARCH button.
    After the user inputs the search criteria in the search entry box, the search is ready to be submitted. In order to activate the search, the user must move the mouse pointer over the SEARCH, SUBMIT, or GO button and click the mouse button. By doing this, the search query is sent to the search program and the search program does its magic. The results can now be displayed.

  3. The Results.
    This is the display of sites matching the search criteria. At this point you can read the results of the search and click on the URL(s) of the site(s) that you feel most closely matches your search criteria. A very important piece of information included along with the list of results is the actual number of sites that match the search criteria. This can be found along the top of the screen as seen in the picture below. Note that mountain biking yielded 38 categories and 1090 web sites. In this case, the user might want to consider refining the search criteria in order to have fewer matches.

    In the case of Yahoo!, the results can be displayed by either:

    • Categories
    • Web Sites
    • Web Pages
    • News Stories
    • Net Events
    as can be seen by the strip of buttons at the top of the list. The diagram above shows the display of categories.


An Explanation of Yahoo's! Search Results

       For the first two sets of results (Categories and Web Sites), Yahoo! searches for matches in its database and then ranks the results in order of most relevant to least relevant.

  1. The first set of results are Yahoo! Categories. Since categories are populated with Yahoo! sites, a Yahoo! category can yield hundreds or even thousands of relevant web sites. That's why Yahoo! put them first. Of course, if no categories match your search terms, Yahoo! sends you straight to the Yahoo! Web Sites.

  2. The second set of results, Yahoo! Web Sites correspond to web sites listed in the Yahoo! database. They are listed with the categories that contain them. That way, you can click on the category above the site to get several other related sites. This powerful search strategy is a great way to discover related web sites. If Yahoo! doesn't find any site matches for your search, it goes on to the third set of results, Web Pages.

       The third set of results, Web Pages, is the outcome of a full-text search of the Web. This is provided by Inktomi, a Yahoo! partner. Inktomi uses what's called a search engine, and it specializes in indexing a large number of web pages. This gives it a lot of raw data. Search engines provide good results with very specific requests, and often poor results with general requests. Chances are, however, that if your search terms didn't match anything in Yahoo!, you are doing a very specific search, and Inktomi's result may be right on the money.

The following lesson will guide you through several practice exercises.


Next: Lesson 6 - Yahoo! Searching - Exercises
Previous: Lesson 4 - Yahoo! Browsing - Exercises

SCILnet Home
Course Outline
Searching the Web - Basics
Module Directory
SCILnet Trainers