214 Effective Screen Reading
Search Engines on the Internet
In 2000, the estimations on the number of registered Web pages
varied from around 4 to 5 billion. However, when the actual
calculation was done in 2002, scientists discovered that many
more pages existed than had been previously believed: the
search found over 550 billion pages. The amount of new pages
is obviously accelerating all the time.
There is so much information on the Web that any single
search tool can only find a fraction of it. More than 20,000
different search engines are currently available. These search
tools often specialize in particular areas and their use differs
from one another, as does their coverage across the Web. For
example, AltaVista can index about 2 to 3 billion addresses,
while Google has a coverage of about 7 to 8 billion pages.
However, even the best search engine will only cover a fraction
of the total.
It is no wonder, therefore, that a special “breed” of search
tools—metasearchengines—has emerged. These engines use
various individual utilities at the same time. In a metasearch,
Web search engines are simultaneously put to work together.
When confronting today’s mass of information, we are almost
compelled to resort to these “wonder machines.”
Search Tips—Stop Searching and Start Finding
Closely follow what new developments take place, and use only
the most effective tools. Check regularly the recent news from
Search Engine Watch (www.searchenginewatch.com), which
also carries a listing on specialty search engines. Use the right
tool for your search and you will find what you want quickly and
effectively. If you have difficulties finding key words, but know in
which category the item belongs, you can resort to engines
(such as Yahoo) that show pages hierarchically in vast themes.
If you want to have plenty of results, HotBot and AltaVista are
effective in showing a multitude of pages. However, if your
search is of a special nature, you should find a “specialist”
engine. These are small, limited search tools that often have
expert knowledge in narrow subject areas.
Observe accuracy and write exact key words and phrases in
the search field. Avoid using general words, because these will
give you a vast amount of results. When you encounter prob-
lems like receiving too many hits or wrong pages, sharpen your
Manage the Internet 215
search and add different key words. If you search by phrase,
remember to use quotation marks. These normally correspond
to the exact order of words and therefore often produce the
desired results. Remember that your spelling of names must be
correct. If available, use specific languages for your search, and
learn to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) correctly.
When too many hits appear, modify your search with new
key words. Although the difference may be slight, make a new
start and try other search utilities, like metasearchengines. They
will produce many results in a relatively small amount of time.
Some of the most popular include MetaCrawler, Ixquick, Profu-
sion, SurfWax, and Copernic. The first four on the list are ordi-
nary Web pages, the last one (Copernic) is a program and must
be downloaded to your computer. Both SurfWax and Copernic
include additional software that will make short summaries of the
pages selected. This enables the reader to concentrate on key
information, thus saving time. Besides, there is no need to read
through the whole text.
Summary and Onward
In this chapter, you have learned various techniques on
how to use the Internet more efficiently. We described
how the Internet works and why it is important to set
vision, goals, and/or an action plan when surfing the
Net. We offered a dozen tools for your Internet
sessions, for example correctly using fixations on lines,
benefiting from initial scrolling, and understanding
page elements. To support your natural memory, we
showed how to use favorites and how the manipulation
of the text will help your comprehension. Finding key
words fast in the text and applying your CS guide were
also demonstrated. Understanding different page
layouts serves as the key for reading Web pages
effectively. We demonstrated how to select the right
approach for your reading with skimming, scanning,
exploring, and in-depth reading techniques. Finally, the
latest Web search techniques and tips were presented.

Get Effective Screen Reading: Manage E-mail and the Internet More Efficiently now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.