A new survey has revealed that internet users waste up to eight million hours a week searching for information they cannot find.
Apparently, on any given search more than one in three surfers give up looking after five minutes because they simply cannot find what they need.
The survey, carried out by online brands directory FlickDotCom highlighted the trouble people have trying to use the web efficiently.
This is where search engines should be able to help out, but how many times have you been served up ten pages of useless lists?
Yahoo is possibly the best-known search engine, but since it first hit the internet, it has developed beyond all recognition.
It still is primarily a search engine but would now be classified as a ‘portal’, offering all sorts of information and services, including news, chat rooms and free email.
In fact the list is endless, but it hasn’t lost sight of its primary purpose.
The trick here, as with any engine, is to be as specific as possible and make liberal use of ‘+’, ‘OR’ and other symbols to get as close to your destination as possible.
Excite is very similar, also starting as a straight search engine and then developing into a useful information centre.
Good for simple searches, like Yahoo, but if you want to find something more obscure or technical, be as specific as possible.
Similar mainstream sites include msn.co.uk, lycos.co.uk, and altavista.co.uk.
However, one is left with a feeling that, as they have diversified, they have forgotten their primary purpose – to help people find what they are looking for.
For a straight search engine with no knobs and whistles, go to www.google.com.
This comes with an excellent reputation, and you are not distracted from your search by other features.
It has recently added a web directory, which looks similar to that used by Yahoo, but this is about the only nod towards being a portal.
The ‘I feel lucky’ button is a neat trick – by clicking on the button you are taken straight to the site Google believes to be the most relevant – more often than not it is.
The one thing to watch out for is that it is a US-based site, so make sure your search details have a reference to the UK if that is what you are looking for.
Another useful engine is www.dogpile.com, which in fact sits above a whole lot of other engines.
Its claim that it is ‘all results, no mess’ might be stretching it a bit, but it nonetheless saves you having to click on a number of different engines to help you with your search.
AskJeeves (www.ask.co.uk) is similar, but insists on answering your question with a number of extra questions, which can be frustrating.
The idea is great, but if you think there is a butler behind the screen waiting for your question, you will be disappointed.
OUR TOP FOUR SITES
The original search engine, and still going strong, even if it has diversified beyond recognition.
Rival to Yahoo, provides similar information and directories. A good starting point for your search.
One of the best-rated search engines on the web, this scores by not pretending to be a portal.
Takes the mess out of having to use more than one engine, instead sits over a dozen plus engines.
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