Every time you use the major search engines, Google, Yahoo or Bing, your movements are tracked. This information is then used (mainly) in their advertising strategies. In other words, you’re targeted with adverts that mirror your search history.
Unfortunately, the way they use this information can also influence the results you get when researching a particular subject and can mean hundreds of irrelevant leads. If, like me, you regularly need to research specific topics, there are lots of alternative ways to look for information. And the good news is many of these sites don’t track your search.
It’s worth remembering that no individual search engine, no matter how powerful it is, can give you all the possible answers available on the Internet. It only searches a small part of it. That’s why you get slightly different results if you put the same keyword into different search engines.
To begin with, here are a few tips to help you improve your search technique:
• Boring I know, but when you use a new search engine for the first time, read through the user guide. You’ll find advice on how the search engine works; how to use its tools for advanced searching, if it uses ‘stop words’ lists (words like ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘a’ are often ignored by search engines), or whether you can use Boolean search commands, ‘AND’, ‘OR’ or ‘AND NOT’.
• Tell the search engine which words should and should not appear in the results by using the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols. Using these in front of keywords helps to refine your search e.g. +tea +rooibos -green. The search engine knows to look for rooibos tea but not green tea.
• To find an expression or a phrase in a specific order, use double quotation marks (“ “) e.g. “Yellow Brick Road”.
• If you only know a part of a quote, you can use these marks around the word “search”. For example, “search” never was so… – returns the famous wartime phrase by British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
• If you’re not sure how a word is spelt or you want variations on the word, use the wildcard asterisk (*) after part of your keyword. For example, sing* returns words like singing, single, singularly.
Okay search sleuths, let’s start searching one of my favourite pastimes…Music
This searches ten different sites at the same time and it claims to index over 6 million mp3 files. All you have to do is provide the performer and title. There’s a small fee to download the file.
This search database holds almost 1 million mp3 files with more added daily. It only indexes legal websites and not those known to contain illegal content.
Great site for finding music and lyrics around the world.
You have to sign in to use this search engine. You can find music to suit your mood, whatever activity you’re doing right now or by genre. Fun site to use.
If you’re into Hip Hop then this is for you. You get 3 free tracks when you sign up then pay a small download fee for additional tracks.
This is a wonderful site but be warned – you get addicted to it. You sing or hum a few notes and it will find the track for you. Best used with a headset microphone and it checks that it’s hearing you clearly before you start.
An amazing site where you can search for sounds effects and sound samples of musical instruments. Search for dolphins … it sounds like you’re in the water with them.
Want to find PDF files / Printed Books / EBooks
Simply type in the subject you’re researching and it will bring back hundreds of links.
This is a great site as it offers you a list of searchable categories.
Bit of a hit and miss search – it gives lots of links but not always relevant.
Returns lots of results but the adverts drive you crazy.
You can search by ISBN number, author or title and it will find books that are new, used or out-of-print.
Find your favourite old comic by title or by searching through the category list.
A general search engine for EBooks.
Fantastic site for finding ‘How to’ manuals for all sorts of equipment, household items, cars etc.
Well that’s Part 1 search sleuths and I hope you’ve found this collection interesting and helpful.
In How to Search – without using Google – Part 2 , you’ll learn about:
• the Librarians’ Index
• meta search engines and how they work
• directories like DMOZ and why they’re so useful
• the invisible web… and lots more
Oh My God LOL!!!
If you’re in need of a laugh, put a word into this search engine and it will come up with hilarious images based on your word. I tried ‘Cup Cakes’ and found some of the funniest looking cakes that you just wouldn’t be able to eat for laughing… Enjoy
Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance business writer.
when you need help with copywriting
or you want to chat about your next writing project.
photo credit: minifig via photopin cc