Search engines are tools intended to help people search out information on the World Wide Web. Some of the information retrieved by search engines includes websites, images, video as well as many other types of files. When searching the web, there are a few basic tips to remember:
• Narrow the search topic into keywords or phrases
• Spelling counts!
• Searches are not case sensitive
• Use precise words for your search topic
• Punctuation is usually not necessary
• To locate an exact phrase, place quotes around the words
• Explore as many search results as possible
What is a Phrase Search?
A phrase search is a great search technique for significantly reducing your search results. Place double quotations around the search phrase, which in turn will tell the search engine to only retrieve the phrase indicated.
Example: “John A Macdonald”
What is a Boolean Search?
A Boolean search is a system using standardized words to connect search words or phrases. Using this kind of search will narrow or broaden a web search by using the words AND, OR, NOT (use all caps) as keywords. It is important to recognize that not all search engines support Boolean searches.
Web searching for required words, use the plus sign (+) or AND to require both words be found in the search.
Web searching for excluded words, use the minus sign (-) or AND NOT to request a word not be included in the search.
Web searching for multiple words, use the term OR to request that either one of the words be found in the search.
There are dozens of search engines available for online users to access. It is important to recognize that while Google is the most popular search engine on the web today, it is advantageous to explore different engines and not simply rely on retrieving information from one source. Students need to be well-informed citizens that are able to seek out information from multiple sources, or what we call being information literate. “To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (Wikipedia, 2010).
While Google continues to dominate as the number one search engine, it should not be the only means to which students are researching, retrieving and using information. There are a handful of effective search engines specifically designed for excellent educational results. Recommended search engines for students include:
Quintura for Kids
Here are a few of the poplar search engines today used by people searching the web:
The most popular search engine with over 1 billion pages of web content
A meta search engine that searches Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask all at once
All The Web
Searches over 600 million websites
Offers simple and advanced searches of over 500 million websites
Has a database of approximately 500 million websites
Searches over 250 million websites
Microsoft’s new search engine launched in 2009
A ‘decision engine’ to help users make better information decisions
Wikipedia (2010). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_literacy