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General Search Engines

Search engines are powerful tools but the number of results they retrieve can be overwhelming and many may not be appropriate for academic work. The Information Resources by Subject pages include the relevant databases, journals, Internet resources and search tools for your subject.


How search engines work

Search engines allow you to enter keywords that are run against a database of billions of web documents, usually created automatically by "spiders" or "robots". Most search engines rank search results by relevancy; usually how often and where your search terms appear. Google also ranks results according to the number of other sites which link to a page.

No search engine covers the entire Internet. If you are doing a comprehensive search, it is important to use more than just one search engine as you can get widely differing results from different search engines. Check the search tips for each one to see how to get the best from it. The advanced search facilities provided can also help you make your searches more precise. 

Most search engines do little to monitor the quality of the pages they retrieve. See the Internet tutorials for further help with using the Internet and evaluating the quality of web pages.

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Major world-wide search engines

Below are some of the major search engines, most offer additional news, audio, images and video searching: 

Ask Jeeves
Suggests search terms as you type and offers related searches to refine your results.

Microsoft's search engine. Suggests search terms as you type and offers related search terms in your search results.

Searches without sharing or tracking your search history as part of its privacy policy.  

This search engine allows phonetic and approximate spelling searching which is useful if you are unsure of the spelling of your search terms.  It also shows thumbnail images of web pages in the results.

Popular for its speed, relevance of results and uncluttered interface. Google has a developed advanced search option and a whole range of features such as news, maps and images and GoogleScholar. GoogleScholar limits your search to academic websites and you can alter its settings to enable you to access full text articles within your search results from publications to which Cardiff University is subscribed. 

Yahoo uses Bing’s databases but has its own interface and a useful advanced search (accessible by clicking on 'More' above the search box).


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Country specific search engines

These are sources of country specific search engines:

Country based search engines
List produced by Internet expert Phil Bradley.

European Search Engines

Search Engine Colossus


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Meta Search Engines

Meta search engines allow you to search with several search engines simultaneously. They include:

This site allows you to search a range of search engines simultaneously, with results from each displayed side by side on the screen. Search engines include Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and Bing.
Provides the option to rapidly switch results from one search engine to another, and includes a large range of search engines including Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, Bing and Exelead.

Similar to Trovando, Zuula allows you to switch between results from a range of search engines.