Tools for Keyword Searching

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Tools for Keyword Searching

Alta Vista

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AltaVista used to be the largest and most important crawler based search engines, before the rise of Google. You can search in on different media types (web including pdf files, images, mp3/audio, video and news). AltaVista offers powerful search features, such as proximity searching, truncation, and link searches. Within simple search, users can search for exact phrases, require or prohibit words, search within the title field of an HTML document, search for documents that contain a link to a particular URL, use wildcards, and employ case sensitivity. The advanced query allows for the use of Boolean operators (and, or, not, near) and lets users limit searches by date, file types, and location. Results are returned 10 to 50 per page. Pro's: Fast searches, large database, internatinal coverage, foreign language handling, finds things others don't. Cons: database not as large as it used to be, inadequate relevancy ranking, which spits out too many lists of links instead of useful documents. AltaVista was originally owned by Digital Equipment, then taken over by Compaq, and in 2003 purchased by Overture (one of the leading providers of paid listings).


EuroSeek - Europe's premiere search engine. It's very fast and easy to handle. It has an interface for almost every European language. You can choose the region from which the resulting documents will originate. You can use the Boolean operators AND and OR and you can search phrases by using quotes. The engine is powered by SUN enterprise and is located at Hallonbergen in Sweden.


Google is the most outstanding search engine at this time. It combines comprehensive coverage of the web with great relevancy. Google started as a new searching kid in town. It proved to be incredible fast and accurate. Google delivers the most relevant search results first, out of an index of more than 3 billion web pages. With sophisticated technology it uses an automated method that ranks relevant websites based on the link structure of the internet self.


A search engine that claims to be capable of indexing the entire WWW every week. HotBot's lets you search on different media types (Audio, Image, Java, MP3, MS Word, PDF, Video), allows you to limit searches by date, domain, languague, or continent. The search actioon is fast because of the use of parallel processing, which distributes the load of queries as well as the database over several work stations. It claims to have the most complex index and the best scalability in terms of keeping up with the Web's exponential growth. The results are presented with full descriptions, brief descriptions or URL only.


Lycos indexes document titles, headings, links. Contains not only text files, but also sound, video, software, and other multimedia files. Also indexes FTP archives and Gopher menus. It's a combination of a search engine with hundreds of spiders (CentiSpeed technology) that collect information. The index is huge - they claim to have indexed 91 per cent of the Web: 68 million unique URLs. Maybe not the biggest, but very big. The index searches by document title, links and keywords. There is no way to specify adjacency in terms, but adjacency is used to rank relevance; results are scored and listed in order.

There are many search options, but only simple Boolean keyword searches (and, or). Users can set the relevance feature looser or stronger in order to return a greater number or lesser number of documents, and customize how their results are displayed. Be aware that the simple search form has the Boolean 'or' operator set as a default. Lycos delivers the most comprehensive results (generally equivalent to Alta Vista's), listed in ranked order. Information includes document address, title, file size, and an excerpt from the file. In the forms-based search you can set the number of hits. The size of the report is often overwhelming (much irrelevant information; old versions of pages).

It excludes certain common "stop" words such as 'the', 'and', and 'new' from its searches -- and there is no way to get around this limitation. An automated web roaming process samples the network continuously for more information to add, but the database is rebuilt once a week. Lycos offers a FAQ document for additional information about its service. Service runs on several Sun SparcStations to distribute the load, nonetheless is sometimes too busy to accept a search. Plans include adding the standard Boolean operators (and, or and not) to search options. Lycos 250 is a hotlist of top sites on the Web. Created by: Carnegie Mellon University; Lycos, Inc.


WebCrawler - Very fast keyword searcher. Size: 55 million documents; 1,800,000 separate entries.The content index is about 50 MB. Content: Full text (excludes URL) - Web pages, FTP, Gopher, Newsgroups. Search software: WebCrawler Query Server, NEXTSTEP's IndexingKit. It indexes both document titles and document content using a vector space model. Searching: Keywords, and strings or phrases. Default is boolean AND, can be switched off (boolean OR). Results: Ranked by relevancy, without annotations or summary. If the title doesn't tell you what you want to know, you have no choice but to link to the page. Update frequency: weekly. Accessibility/Response Time: Very fast. Pro's: Easy to use; fascinating information about how Webcrawler's search strategy works. Cons: Retrieval tools are not sophisticated enough. Search hints and other easily reachable background information is not detailed and clear enough. Its limited accuracy and the scant amount of information it returns make it a less than ideal resource. Doesn't display a text summary for each item found. Best used when you want to zero in on popular sites but not for complex searches. The WebCrawlers directory is of very limited use: you have to pay if you want your site submitted to the WebCrawler directory. Created by: Brian Pinkerton, recently absorbed by Excite.

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