Lost in the net?
Navigating Search Engines
EDU 626 Integration of Educational Technology
Define “search engine”?
What is a search engine?
− Essentially, a search engine is a computer
program. The biggest ones, such as Google,
Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask, use giant
clusters of computers to search the web. Others
search only the owner’s site
A more scholarly definition
− Originally, a hardware device designed to
search a text-based database for specific
character strings (queries) typed as input by the user.
More recently, computer software designed to help the
user locate information available at sites on the World
Wide Web by selecting categories from a hierarchical
directory of subjects (example: Yahoo!) or by entering
appropriate keywords or phrases (Google, Hotbot, etc.).
Most Web search engines allow the searcher to use
Boolean logic and truncation in search statements.
• Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science
What’s the core of that definition?
− “designed to help the user locate information
available at sites on the World Wide Web”
− Two methods involved to locate that
1. from a hierarchical directory of subjects
2. by entering appropriate keywords or phrases
Example of a web directory?
This is the way it
used to be
is! But is Yahoo!
a directory now?
Another example—that exists today!
HotVsNot.com is a
on providing high-
Entering appropriate keywords or phrases
What is a keyword?
− A “keyword” or “keyword Phrase” is the word
or words a person types into the search box on a
search engine to look up subject matter on the
Internet. If you are looking for a flag for your
home or office, you might type in “American
• SEO Questions & Answers (FAQ)
How does a search engine work?
3 basic tasks of search engines:
1. They search the Internet -- or select pieces of the
Internet -- based on important words.
2. They keep an index of the words they find, and
where they find them.
3. They allow users to look for words or
combinations of words found in that index.
• How Internet Search Engines Work
by Curt Franklin
How a search engine builds its index
What does this mean?
1. You are not searching the Web directly, and not even
a snapshot of the Web, either
2. You are not even searching all of the Web, only the
websites that have been crawled by the search engine’s
3. The indexes do not distinguish the keywords by their
meaning—they’re simply a collection of words with
the links to where they occur [it’s not for nothing that
one of the metasearch engines is called Dogpile!]
What about the order of appearance?
− is another way that the page ranks are
determined. With this method a website is
ranked depending on how many people have
clicked on the link. A website that may originally
have been low on the list due to low keyword
frequency can move up in the rankings if enough
users click on the link. This allows websites that
have useful information to be ranked higher,
even though their keywords and links may not be
• Search Engines
Can you improve your site’s ranking?
What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?
− SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is
the process of getting traffic from the “free,”
“organic,” “editorial” or “natural” listings on search
engines. All major search engines such as Google,
Yahoo and Bing have such results, where web pages
and other content such as videos or local listings are
shown and ranked based on what the search engine
considers most relevant to users. Payment isn’t
involved, as it is with paid search ads.
What does all this mean?
Your mileage will vary!
− When you compare your search across different
Results vary for the same search engine,
Some thoughts about personalization
− Our philosophy on personalization
• Our goal as always is to give you the answers you’re
looking for as quickly as possible. The best answers might
include some tweaks and tuning based on your interests,
and they might include some perspectives from friends
and colleagues, but undoubtedly the best answers from
across the web will still be highly relevant. We hear from
our users again and again that they value the opinions of
experts and authorities, and that’s a big part of why they
turn to Google.
Posted by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow 11/23/11 | 11:00:00 AM
Limiting your search results
Focusing your search queries
− Field searching is an optional way to focus your
search results. With general search engines,
you're searching the full text of many millions of
pages, and field searching can help you retrieve
results that may be more manageable. For
example, you can search for words that appear
within a particular Web site, within the URL
(Web address), in the page title, and so on. The
exact technique for doing this can differ among
search engines, so be sure to check out the Help
pages before proceeding.
• Basic Search Techniques
Field search commands
− Google allintitle:
− Bing intitle:
− Searches for keywords only in the title of a
− e. g. allintitle:hurricane caribbean deaths
− intitle:hurricane caribbean deaths
Limit to specific website
− Both Google and Bing use site:
− e. g. site:nasa.gov