There’s more to the Internet than search engines

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‘I need to find something online… I know, I’ll Google it!’

Arghh. Everytime I hear that phrase – Google it! I cringe. Not because I have a deep hatred of Google, or that I think it’s useless (in fact it’s generally the search engine I use out of habit), it’s just that there’s more to the internet than Google. And to that end, more than Yahoo, Bing, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, Everyclick etc.

The internet is a great tool (which at times frightens me with its vastness). It’s filled with loads of interesting and useful facts. For the most part, information is easily found using a general search engine with one or two search terms. But sometimes (or more often depending on what you’re looking for), your engine won’t find what you’re looking for. That’s when people get frustrated, give up and bemoan the internet – because they don’t understand it!

According to the book Going Beyond Google: the invisible web in learning and teaching, research has shown that only 16 % of the resources on the internet are picked up by general search engines on the ‘visible’ web. So when you’re doing a search on Google or other search engines, you’re only looking at a tiny fraction of what’s out there.

Where is the rest of the information if it can’t be found by a search engine? It’s in the ‘invisible’ web… the ‘deep web’; databases, complex websites, subscription sites, etc. Over 54% of information is locked away in the deep web, meaning search engines only skim the surface.

So the next time you’re searching the internet bear in mind that you won’t necessarily find what you’re looking for. Have a look at a few search engines to see if their information differs (or try a great meta search engine called Dogpile – it compares Yahoo, Google and Bing tells you which engine it found the info on).

Also, give a thought to looking in databases and online subscription journals, particularly if its academic or research based. You’ll be more likely to find the information in these sources than using general search engines. You’ll also be able to access more authoritative information (I’m not degrading the information in the visible web, but user beware).

Those are my thoughts about search engines. What do you think? Am I right? Do you have similar feelings? I hope I’m not the only moaner out there! Happy searching.

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2 Responses to “There’s more to the Internet than search engines”

  1. Martin Hodges Says:

    As a retired Information Scientist, I was interested to discover this list of useful links at FreePint. Check it out at http://web.freepint.com/forum/bar/read.php?i=7473

  2. Juliet Says:

    Thanks Martin, I’ll check that out!

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