7 tips to improve the way you search online

As the internet continues to grow with every passing second, the amount of content available online — such as text, pictures and even high-definition multimedia — keeps on increasing. The biggest problem we face, however, is accessing all this information when we need it.

This is where search engines come in. Most of us tend to use the usual services — Bing, Google and Yahoo. But did you know that there's more to web search than just these big names? Here's a quick primer that will help you...

Meta search

For better results, it is recommended that you use at least two or three search engines. But for most of us, querying different services can prove to be cumbersome. In such cases, it makes sense to use meta search engines, which pull data from multiple services, eliminate duplicates, and use their own algorithms to reorder the results.

Here you could look at:Dogpile.com (queries Google and Yahoo)Zapmeta.com (Altavista, Entireweb, Gigablast and Yahoo, among other services)Search.com (Bing, Blekko, DMOZ aka Open Directory and Google).

If you're looking for multimedia, you could use search.creativecommons.org. This site is not a meta search engine in itself, but lets you query services such as Flickr, Fotopedia, Google Images, Open Clip Art Gallery and Pixabay for images; Jamendo, ccMixter and SoundCloud for music; and YouTube for videos.

Natural language search

Most search engines rely on keywords to carry out searches. But if you're looking for a service where you can ask questions in spoken English, try Ask.com. This engine understands queries in natural language to give you exactly the kind of result you were looking for.

Type "How large is a whale," for instance, and the site returns with "Whales reach lengths of 100 feet and can weigh up to 200 tons..."

Social search

Searching websites is one thing, but trawling blogs, social networks and tweets for content is quite something else.

Here, our favourite tool is Icerocket.com. Simply type your keyword or phrase, and you can then select from any one of its tabs: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or Search All for results. It's a great way to keep an eye on what's trending on the interweb.

Image search

Bing, Google and Yahoo let you search images, but you might want to try Tineye.com, which is a 'reverse' image search engine.

You can upload a picture, or send a web link to its servers, after which Tineye uses image identification technology to tell you where the picture came from, how it's being used, if modified versions exist and it even identifies higher resolution versions.

The site, which regularly crawls the web for new pictures, has indexed 7.3 billion images from the internet to help you find what you're looking for.

 Video search

If it's online videos you're looking for, try Blinkx.com. This service helps you find clips from hosting services, v-logs, news channels and more.

You can search by category (news and politics, sports, science and nature, technology, movies, and celebrities), keywords and sometime even by content (like song lyrics) — and with your results, Blinkx also suggests possible channels to which you can subscribe. 

Kid search

Kidrex.org is designed exclusively for youngsters and leads to content that's safe for kids.

Alternatively, most search engines provide filters that block content that might not be suitable for children. Bing, Google, and Yahoo have their SafeSearch option, which can be found under 'Preferences' on the respective sites.

Still, it should be noted that these filters are not perfect and some material does get past them, so keeping a parental eye on these is advised.
Medical search

iMedisearch.com is a customized Google engine specifically built to search medical-related resources. But unlike Google, which cannot distinguish between reputable and non-reputable medical sites, iMedisearch only displays data from credible websites that have been carefully selected by a practicing clinical pharmacist.

Additionally, the site separates results based on users — whether general public, physician or nurse — to deliver relevant and accurate results.


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