Petit image    Milan
Linux day

The main search engines, differences & tricks

The main search engines
To-day's suggestions: Google - Raging - Infoseek - Hotbot
(keeping Northernlight and Fast up your sleeve)

I have chosen four of the many 'main' search engines in order to give you a small 'taste' of the differences. When you'll search 'for true' you better consider as well Northernlight (which uses result clustering to prevent domination of results from a small set of sites) and Fast/alltheweb (the 'stopword searcher', try the query "to be or not to be" on Fast and confront your results with the same search on Raging or on Hotbot :-). Search engines are costantly being ameliorated and use pools of rotating algos for relevance ranking of the results in order to keep spammers and commercial bastards at by. If you want to see an example of a good search engine (actually a search directory) that is gone worse with time visit yahoo (now "powered" by google but using different algos).
Google has moved to Linux this year
Google is extremely quick, quite accurate (if you use it for specific searches) and very useful for stalkers and combers because it has CACHED pages!
(remember that in google it does not hurt to put a + before every queryword :-)

There are two 'philosphical schools' about google: many searchers find that since the last big algorithm changes this sommer Google results have got much worse ("google finds very fast very useless results"). Some searchers assure that they cannot find anything relevant with google, and that the hype surrounding this search engine is only due to the abilities of google's PR department. There's a grain of truth: the more specific your search, the best results you will obtain on google, whereas generic searches wont give results as accurate as those that you can get with alta's raging or Infoseek's plethora of different "NEAR" operators. It's still one of my top most useful 'generic' search engines, though. Moreover Google has cached pages (for stalkers combers and klebers a most important feature). Google's politic against spammers and commercial zombies trying to push 'their' sites on the first positions through cloaking is also very harsh, an added advantage if you ask me. Google has an algo that weights inbound links to elevate the pages' rankings.


Raging, Altavista "almost text only" answer to google's spectacular success. Uses a series of databases, so the same search can give completely different results following the time of the day, the load on the servers etcetera. For search engines, remember, it is relatively easy to swap INDEXES to the same database, cutting short their answers to "joe luser the average user" everytime they feel like it. Alta's algos main defect is that they are very easy to spam, so you'll get most useless results in the first 20-30 positions. ("hic alta, hic salta" say experienced searchers who mostly jump directly in the middle of altavista's results lists).

Only 500 results viewable!
"Proximity champion", Many expert seekers use this engine for proximity queries.
Note the "Search within results" option at the bottom.

  • ADJ (adjacent words in any order)
  • ADJ/# (# number of words apart - exact)
  • 0ADJ (adjacent words in specified order)
  • 0ADJ/# (# number of words apart - exact - in specified order)
  • NEAR (within 25 words)
  • NEAR/#(within # words)
  • ONEAR (within 25 words in specified order)
  • ONEAR/#(within # words in specified order)
  • FAR (more than 25 words from each other in at least ONE instance)
  • FAR/#(more than # words from each other in at least ONE instance)
  • OFAR (more than #25 words from each other in at least ONE instance in specified order)
  • OFAR/#(more than # words from each other in at least ONE instance in specified order)

Only 1000 results viewable!

Its 'popularity' result engine is a mixed bless. Note the "Search within these results" option!
Try the [Hotbot BETA supersearch form] to understand why this engine can be useful per se
    2 years default value!   
Pages Must Include: image  MP3   video  JavaScript
Return Results:

Hotbot, an 'Inktomi type' search engine (acquired by Lycos, like Tripod and Angelfire), uses DMOZ and Direch Hit results. Now some exact searches are starting to come up with word groupings in text deep in the pages, la google way. Its database has been quite inconsistent, recently, with samo samo searches giving results as different as up to 50%. Moreover Hotbot is one of the main culprits among search engines suspected - quite rightly- to sell rankings for money.

Main search engines, a first conclusion

Most of the people inside 'search engines algos cracking' are either spammers or commercial operators intent to 'push' their client sites in the first ranking positions. Since most normal zombie users would never dream to go behyond the first 10-20 results ranked (if ever), high rankings on the first result page(s) are - as you may expect - of paramount relevance (and commercial value).

Indeed there's a lot of money currently raining into this specific field... run around this field with your hat upside down and you'll surely get a part of it. Yet be warned: I have noticed that searchers and algo-reversers overly interested in money don't understand much of what's really going on under the hoods... they always have a too 'contingent' attitude... if you understand what I mean. A nice "legge del contrappasso" if you ask me.

This said for traffic purposes search engines are indeed great, yet 'fame' and 'web-press' articles are even more important.
If you can become a somewhat recognized name in a given industry and are able to provide new and relevant content to said industry, you're golden.

Anyway even knowing how the main search engines operate and reversing their algos is not enough for a good searcher: in order to search effectively you must also know that there are important seeking resources elsewhere.
Proceed to where else to look: local / regional / usenet

to basic
(c) 2000: [fravia+], all rights reserved