Search Engines

This week I’m going to take a break from answering readers’ questions to discuss the most efficient way of searching for material on the Internet over International, National and Local scales.My decision to write an article on this came when I realised that many new starters to the Internet did not realise how easy and efficient it is to use a search engine to look for information they are interested in.These search engines are actual sites on the Internet that have a huge directory containing the majority of websites that are registered on the Internet and exactly what information they contain so that the average Internet user only has to type in what he is after and the search engine will return sites that match his or her criteria.

Okay then, first things first, let us assume that you’ve just logged on to the Internet and you want to find some information about Pop Bands.Simple enough – just go to one of the popular search engines such as AltaVista (www.av.com) and type ‘pop bands’ into the search box.When you click on search, the search engine will use the method I detailed above to return a report listing based on the highest ranked sites in its directory containing the words ‘pop’ and ‘bands’.Please just give it a quick try out now so that you understand what is happening before I go any further.

Now, say that you’re looking for pop band details, but not ones that are American in origin.Again, fairly simple, go back to www.av.com and type in ‘pop bands –american’.Please note the minus sign before the word America and that I’m not using capitals in any of these searches as this could limit the results that I get back.

If you wanted to do a search similar to these two above, but only results for UK based websites, then go to the UK version of AltaVista at www.altavista.co.uk and use exactly the same procedures for searching as I explained above.

Further search options include the following –

“pop bands” : Please note that I’m using speech marks around the search phrase, this will only return websites that have the include the words ‘pop’ and ‘bands’ right next to each other, as opposed to having ‘pop’ at the top of the page and ‘bands’ at the bottom.

“pop bands” -american : Please note the use of speech marks around the search phrase and the minus sign before the word America, this will return only websites that have the words ‘pop’ and ‘bands’ together, but not those that contain american anywhere in the text.

It is also possible to phrase questions to AltaVista in plain English, for example ‘Where can I find details of pop bands?’

There are many other sites that you may prefer to use as opposed to AltaVista – Try out some of the following – www.yahoo.com, www.yahoo.co.uk, www.lycos.com, www.ask.com etc.These are all very similar to AltaVista, but everybody as their own tastes and you may find one of these more appropriate.

These search engines are all very good for National and International content, but if you want details of a restaurant in Paignton or an accountant in Torquay then, rather unsurprisingly, will you need to take a look at some of the local search engine directories;for example www.upmystreet.co.uk.Using this site, you can type in any postcode or town and discover a large amount of general information on that town as well as shops and services in the local area. When searching a particular category, all results that are found matching your criteria are ranked in order of distance from the postcode that you entered.Categories on this site include guest houses, hotels, transport, careers, education, eating and drinking, sports facilities, late night shops etc.Once you have found something that interests you, ‘UpMyStreet’ can give you a map of the area.

The one downside I found to this site is that some of the information is out of date or inaccurate, however this isn’t really worthy of any real complaint as the is still a great deal of extremely useful information here; particularly useful for someone moving into or holidaying in an area that is unfamiliar to them.Incidentally, for further local information, another good site to look at can be found at www.koko.com.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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