Finding it Online

The internet has made it easier than ever to search for different types of information. At the same time, it’s hard to differentiate between good information and bad information. A user may look at only one source and decide to use it in a paper, not knowing that the information is false. There are some useful tips for users who need to find it online.

Search engines are the first place to start a search. These search engines gather information using an algorithmic system to rank them on the page. They rely on keyword density and the reputability of the page, with the more trusted sites listed near the top of the page. The four major search engines are Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

Performing a simple search actually requires a little more thought. The user needs to be specific about their topic, but not so specific that their resources are limited. For example, an individual may want information on artists working in the Cubist movement. Entering Cubism or Cubist and artwork or artists will result in more searches than those looking for a specific work of art created in a specific year.

It’s also helpful to use quotation marks to specify an exact term. Consider the individual looking for taxi cab companies in New York City. Those words entered as is will result in millions of hits and not all of those relate to the topic. Using "taxi" and "New York City" helps narrow down the search to those sites that contain the specific phrases and terms.

Searchers can also define their search by using a subject directory. Subject directories contain links surrounding one specific topic or subject. Users will find those relating to history, art, politics, news, sports and a variety of other topics. Some good examples of subject directories are Librarians Internet Index, Infomine and There’s also the Google Directory and the Yahoo! Directory.

Once a searcher finds websites relating to their search, they need to evaluate the information they find. Generally speaking, those websites that end with .edu and .gov are the best resources because they’re maintained by educational institutes and government organizations. In some cases .org websites are good sources, but only if they’re run by a reputable non-profit organization.

Users can also check for the links or affiliates to the website. Those with links to other .edu or .gov sites are generally trustworthy. They should also check for the date the website was updated and contact information for the site owner. This shows that the owner is frequently updating the webpage and working with users.

For more information on searching the web, see Internet Finding Tips, Internet Search Tips and Strategies, Yahoo! Help, Search Tips from Mama, Search Tips and The Essentials of Google Search. These provide information on searching the internet, simplifying the search and finding the right information.