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Tag Archives: Metasearch Engines

A brief look at metasearching

My Blogging Experience – New to Blogging

Information Architecture and Content Management is my first ever blog. For this blog I have used WordPress, one of the most popular blogging tools. WordPress is also open source, which means that the user has access to the code that WordPress is built on and they can change it if they desire. It also means that it is free to use for the perspective blogger, all that is needed is a domain name and a web host. Or you can use the WordPress.com service that allows a blogger to set up a free blog as a sub domain of WordPress.

As my first attempt at writing a blog, I would rate this experience as successful. I have already put forward a few blog posts; I have focused on making the posts high quality and am confident that I have achieved that goal. In addition, in the process of producing these blog posts, I have learned more about search engines, search engine optimisation and the use of search analytics tools in web development.

I have attempted (to the best of my current ability) to use SEO techniques such as those that have been written about in my second post. Unfortunately as of 5th September 2011 my blog does not even appear in the top 10 pages when using a Google search for “search engine optimisation” but the Google search “tim ashton search engine optimisation” returns my blog in the number one position, also true for the search “tim ashton metasearch engines”. Of course, my blog is up against the experts in SEO as every organisation or individual that provides a SEO service has got an optimised blog or website.

Search Engine Optimisation Search

Search Results for the SEO Google Search

 

Metasearchengine search

Search Results for Metasearch engine Google Search

 

Now that I have a sentiment of a success from my first attempt at blogging, I think that I will certainly participate in blogging in the future. As I gain more experience in the information technology industry, I will draw on an increasing pool of knowledge. An increase in my knowledge base will allow me to offer more in each of my future blogs and blog posts. In doing so I will not only share what I know with others, but I am inviting comments, and increasing my exposure to a community of blogging peers on the web. I will be using this blogging experience as my starting point in my information sharing activities on the web.

HTML
The most difficult technical issues of getting started as a blogger have been made relatively trivial through the use of WordPress. The WordPress content management system (CMS)has negated the technical difficulty of producing this blog. You do not need to know how to code in server side scripting languages such as PHP or write SQL (WordPress uses PHP and SQL) queries to interact with a database, you do not even need to know how to produce HTML code. That said, my knowledge of HTML has been very helpful, it has allowed me to modify the content in the way that I desired. Without this knowledge I think it would have been difficult to produce tables and position pictures effectively. I found using the standard WordPress content management view a bit tedious and that it was considerably easier to write HTML code to achieve my blogging goals.

Having the technical issues taken care of by the content management systems allowed me to focus on producing quality content for my blog and know that for the most part, it could be simply entered into the CM administration interface. Producing the content was, in fact quite challenging. Not only was there a considerable amount of research and reading required but I was attempting to write the content in a search engine friendly manner.

Coming up with new ideas for the content of a blog is not easy, but if a starting point with a sound foundation can be made, the blog can stem from there and begin to grow. I think that the continued production of a quality blog would assist in the generation of new ideas from comments and input from other bloggers. Furthermore, a continued participation in blogging circles of a particular topic will help to stimulate new blog posts.

The Blogosphere
This blogging experience has given me an insight as what it means to actually maintain and write in a blog. The experience showed me that actually setting up and using blog software was not complex. The difficulty exists more in the production of high quality content written in an appropriate manner for the web and gaining exposure on the web from your blog.

I learned more about the topics that I have posted about and I have become more aware of the blogosphere at large. I have learned that bloggers work hard to get their blog posts noticed and they interact with other bloggers to share their ideas and knowledge. Additionally the whole notion of blogging is knowledge sharing and communication between people with both similar and dissimilar views.

The topics written about in blog posts are numerous and varied, The State of the Blogosphere 2010 report by Technorati provides some interesting information about who is blogging, why, what are they blogging about, how often and where are they blogging from.

Further information

 

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Special Search Engines on the Web – Metasearch Engines

Google, Yahoo and Bing - Web Search EnginesOn the World Wide Web there are many different search engines available, most of us simply use Google, Yahoo, Bing or one of the other main engines to perform all of our searches. If you use Google to perform a search for “list of search engines” you will quickly discover that the search engines available are both numerous and varied in their application.

There are search engines categorised by “Content” type (news, business, medical etc), “Information” type (forum, blogs etc), “Model” type (open source, semantic browsing etc), “based on” types (Google, Yahoo, Bing). Within these of search engine types there is a number of engines that are available, so for example in the metasearch engine category there is Exite, Info.com, Dogpile, MetaCrawler just to name a few.

I am aiming to find two special search engines on the web and to discover which of the two works the best. In order to do this I need to find two similar special search sites, it would not really be appropriate to compare a bit torrent search engine with a legal search engine as the content and the intended audience is going to be very different.

As there are many metasearch engines and it is a concept that is quite interesting, so I have chosen two metasearch engines for this exercise. To make my choice, the query “metasearch engine” was run in Google and a list of available metasearch engines was returned. From this list I have selected Dogpile and MetaCrawler.

A metasearch engine is a search engine that takes the query entered by the user and sends it to a number of other search engines. When the results are returned the metasearch engine combines the results into a single list as if only one search engine were used. This allows the user to search across multiple search engines simultaneously. In this case, MetaCrawler and Dogpile combine engines such as Yahoo, Google and Bing.

For the end user, this combination means access to combined indexes of web pages that are available and a more comprehensive search of the web can be obtained. Also, the user can complete one search across multiple engines by means of a single query.

I have conducted two different searches in both of the metasearch engines, the first query is “C++” as an IT student I am interested in programming and I am also aware of some sites which I have previously found useful when programming in C++. The second query is a more natural language type; it is “which bees make the best honey”. In this case I am just interested in the subject matter and am prepared to browse a few different sites to learn more.

The search for “C++” yielded similar results from both engines except that Dogpiles first response is a financial market result for Citibank stocks, and is not at all what I was looking for in my search for “C++”. Both Dogpile and MetaCrawler have compiled a list of results which (apart from the Citibank stocks) are very appropriate. Sites such as cplusplus.com and cprogramming.com are valuable resources for programmers and of course Wikipedia is always a good starting point if it is an information seeking search.

Results of query “C++” for Dogpile

Results of query “C++” for MetaCrawler

The search for “which bees make the best honey” got similar results, though I think that MetaCrawlers results were probably a little better than DogPiles. Although both give the information that is required, the results in the MetaCrawler list supply information giving sites first so there is less to sort through before me as a user can begin browsing.

Results of query “which bees make the best honey” for Dogpile

Results of query “which bees make the best honey” MetaCrawler

Both engines have some advertising in the form of sponsored links; both have suggestions to allow the user to choose possible alternatives to help them search from a “Are you looking for?” list. In addition, both have previous searches listed and retain the original search in the search bar, and almost identical advanced search options.

Though they are very similar, MetaCrawler appears to be a slightly better search engine in terms of results. Dogpile has a slightly more aesthetic interface, but the search results that MetaCrawler delivered were a little more appropriate to my needs in both cases and I think that this would be the case for future searches.

Try Dogpile at www.dogpile.com/

Dogpile

Dogpile Metasearch home

Try MetaCrawler at www.metacrawler.com/

MetaCrawler

MetaCrawler Metasearch home

For a few other special search engines go to http://webquest.sdsu.edu/searching/specialized.html and test them out.

This article http://www.top10tag.com/ten-best-specialized-search-engines/ has some interesting specialised search engines including a sounds search engine, bit torrent engine and a specialised deep web medical search engine.

Here are a few articles of interest related to search engines:
http://www.labnol.org/internet/search/special-search-engines-not-google-or-yahoo/1601/
http://alekdavis.blogspot.com/2007/07/searching-beyond-google.html

Some information in this post was gathered from these pages below
http://www.thesearchenginelist.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_search_engines

 

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