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Web Searching Tools

General Search Engines

Name Strengths Comments
Google Simple and straightforward, Google often provides a good list of relevant hits to your search. It also indexes PDF documents, Word documents, and PostScript files, blogs, YouTube, its ever-growing database of full-text books, and on and on and on. A good place to start your Internet search.  Google is often highly rated by users.  It is one of the largest indexers of the Web.
Google Image Search Easy and fast with excellent results. Clicking on an image shows the image and the page from which it came. If you are looking for images this is a great site to use.
Google Scholar Searches “open-to-the-free-web” scholarly literature (papers, theses, books, articles, etc.). Provides access to some documents that are not indexed by databases. Often does not link to the full text of articles, or requires a fee to link to full text. Try the advanced search tips.
DuckDuckGo This search engine’s claim to fame is that it doesn’t track or “bubble” users. It’s a tool that respects privacy and makes sure you see all relevant results, not just the results it thinks you want to see. Search results often contain “instant answers.” A goodies service includes all sorts of special searches (calculations, conversions, dates, etc.)
Yahoo Yahoo has become a portal site – a home base for news, e-mail, weather, and consumer advice – as well as a search tool. Best of the old “directory” style search engines. Subject-listed entries are selected by people and arranged by category.  It is a good place to start a search.
AltaVista  A huge index, like Google.  Use the advanced search feature for best results. Good for searching various types of images. AltaVista and Yahoo are owned by the same company, so you might lose track of where you are…
Bing Microsoft’s addition to the list of search engines. Search results are broken down into categories listed on the left side of the page for easier topical searches.

Collections of Selected Websites

Name Strengths Comments
Sweet Search SweetSearch is a custom search engine that searches just 35,000 expert-selected Web sites. Very focused on the needs of students. First few hits bring together sources on a single subject. Each entry displays from 100-400 words of context around search terms.
ipl2 Highest quality sites are compiled by public librarians. Good, reliable descriptions provided for sites. This website is a merger between the Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII). Helpful for web research when you want sites that are considered authoritative and reliable.
Open Directory Project A human-edited directory of the Web which is constructed and maintained by a global community of volunteer editors. No ranking or promotion of websites. Open Source inspired, volunteer managed initiative (so quality may vary).
The Internet Scout Project This directory (housed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) has sites selected by professional librarians, educators and content specialists. Sites are screened for timely, accurate information. The quick search box is in the upper right hand corner. Be sure to explore advanced searching by clicking on the “Scout Report Archives” link.

The lists in these tables are by no means exhaustive. They do represent a general consensus on what the helpful search tools are. If you are interested in finding out more about Internet search tools, check out the following links