Friday, December 4, 2009

Getting more from search engines

There was a lot to look at in this module, and I learned some useful tricks. I did 2 searches - "Authors like Stieg Larsson" and "healthy eating for 4 year olds". For the healthy eating search Google came up with 13 million plus results. Limiting it to News reduced it to 426 items, most of them 'sensational' stories, rather than hard facts. The wonderwheel was better, heading me off in specific directions to locate something useful.
The Stieg Larsson search options of blogs and books did not help me to find the information I wanted and the best the Wonderwheel and I could do was to find general sites for crime writers.
Yahoo was not as helpful in getting results with either search - took me a while to find Also Try, but that option could be quite helpful. The options and advanced search facilities looked really good even though I didn't find what I wanted.
Bing resulted in me finding a good local site for healthy eating, but when I limited the search by country using Advanced Search, I couldn't find the site again. However in Bing I found 2 helpful sites for Authors like Stieg Larsson. I liked the brief profile that appeared for each website on the original list.
Exalead did not help with either search particularly, and I did not find the terms offered in Advanced Search very user-friendly. The idea of visual thumbnails seemed good at first but they are too small to be anything but another form of quicklink, so I felt they were a bit of a waste of time. Perhaps I missed something here - it wouldn't be the first time!
As many patrons will not have explored the search engine options I think they will enjoy finding out about them. Options and advanced searching will be useful in researching authors and topics at the reference desk. I preferred the set up of Google and Yahoo to Exalead and Bing, but I cant deny that Bing helped me most with one of my queries.

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