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Subject Guides Prepared by the Swain Library

General Guide | Analytical Chemistry | Biotechnology | Chemical Laboratory Safety | Crystallography | Drug Information | Inorganic Chemistry | Life Scientists | Physical Chemistry | Polymer Chemistry | Searching the Internet | Spectral Information

Searching the Internet

Search Engines | Directories | Portals | General Info. | Links

Search Engines

General | Specialized | All-In-One | Meta | Invisible Web

General Search Engines

Google | AllTheWeb | AltaVista | Compare Search Engines

Compare Search Engines
Feature Google AllTheWeb AltaVista
URL Basic Search, Advanced Search, Google Toolbar Basic Search, Advanced Search Basic Interface, Advanced Interface, Search Assistant
Help Google Help AllTheWeb Help AltaVista Help
Size (as of 12/11/01) 1.5 billion 625 million 550 million
Update Frequency Monthly overall but daily for a few million time-sensitive pages Entire site every 9-11 Days Approximately every 45-60 days but more frequently for News
Depth of Crawling and Indexing All pages are crawled and indexed up to 110k of content. After that, any remaining content is not searchable. All pages in cache are also limited to 110k. Entire content on a web page is crawled and indexed. All pages are crawled up to 100k of content. After that, any remaining content is not searchable. Up to 4MB of links are crawled and indexed.
Default Search AND AND OR (in Basic Interface), Phrase (in Advanced Interface)
Phrase Searching Yes, put terms inside "quotation marks" Yes, put terms inside "quotation marks" Yes, put terms inside "quotation marks"
Stemming or Truncation No No Yes, use * (asterisk) in middle or at end of term. Can also use * to represent an entire word inside a phrase.
Stop Words or Common Terms Yes, by placing a + (plus) sign in front of term. Example: to search the phrase Vitamin A, enter "Vitamin +A". No Stop Words (all words searched). Stop Words cannot be searched in Basic Interface but all words are searchable, including Stop Words, in Advanced Interface.
Case Sensitive No No Yes
Boolean Logic Yes. Use - (minus) sign to exclude a term. Use OR to search either term. AND is default so don't need to use it between terms. The + (plus) sign is used only to search Stop Words. Yes. Use + (plus) sign, - (minus) sign or Boolean (AND, OR, NOT) Yes. Boolean (+, -, AND, OR, AND NOT) in Basic Interface. Boolean (and, or, and not) in Advanced Interface.
Proximity No No Yes, NEAR (Basic Interface), near (Advanced Interface) (10 words in either direction of term).
Nesting Search Terms (in Parentheses) No Yes Yes
Search by Field Yes. Use Advanced search form to specify: language, file format, date, where terms occur, domain, filter for adult content, find similar pages, and links to a page. Yes. Use Advanced Search form to specify language, where terms occur, domain, date, and filter for adult content. Yes. Fields include: (1) anchor: (2) applet: (3) domain: (4) host: (5) image: (6) like: (7) link: (8) text: (9) title: (10) url: For more details, see Advanced Search Syntax. Also limit search by language and date (in Advanced Interface only)
Directory Yes, Open Directory Project No Yes, LookSmart
Other Databases or Directories Available at Web Site Image Search, Google Groups, and Google Web Directory. From Advanced Search page search: U.S. government and military sites, university sites (such as Stanford), mail order catalogs, Linux, BSD Unix, and Apple Macintosh. News, Pictures, Videos, MP3 Files, and FTP files plus Scirus (Elsevier scientific information) and Soccer Search. News, Comparison shop, Yellow Pages, People Finder, Maps, Education Search, Government Search, Text Only Search, Images, Video, and MP3/Audio. See: AltaVista Tools
Special Features Google is the only search engine to crawl and make the content of 12 main file types, including PDF, PostScript, and Microsoft Office, searchable. Translation of web documents. Telephone Search (U.S. Home and Business Numbers), Address Search (for Maps). Results include cached versions of web pages, Dictionary Definitions (for underlined terms), and Similar pages. Customize search, language, filter, intelligence, results, search tips, and flash in results. Note that News, Pictures, Videos, MP3 Files, and FTP files are all searched simultaneously. At bottom of results page, click on tab to view. Folders grouped by category as well as suggested terms to narrow a search result are also available near the top of the results page. Ticker symbols provide direct links to stock quote, news, SEC filings. Translate web documents.
Sorting Results are sorted by relevance which is determined by Google's PageRank analysis, determined by links from other pages with a greater weight given to authoritative sites. Pages are also clustered by site. Only two pages per site will be displayed. By default, sites are sorted in order of perceived relevance. Only one page per domain is displayed unless the Customize option for site collapsing (in results) is turned off. Sites clustered under the one page per domain are not marked, and most users will not realize more hits from that domain might be available. In Basic Interface, results are ranked by Alta Vista's relevance ranking formula. Results are also clustered by site and only one record per site appears on the main results page. In the Advanced Interface, results are NOT sorted unless one or more terms is in the "sort by" box. In Basic Interface, only 200 records can be displayed. In Advanced Interface, up to 1000 records can be displayed.

Last modified: June 24, 2005

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