Books On Web Searching And Search Engines

Books on web searching and search engines

Yes, you may perfectly well enter a few words in a search engine query form, click on "Search!" and hope for the best. If you really want to find the best resources on the net, however, you should learn the web searching basics, i.e. how to formulate advanced queries and how to select the right kind of search tool.

Pandia has an excellent tutorial on Web searching, but sometimes you need a little bit more. Moreover, you can read a book in bed or on the bus! Below find some of the best books on web searching.

Please note, as regards search engines, history is what happened six months ago, and all printed publications on Web searching are somewhat out of date even before they reach the shelves.

Google Power, unleash the full potential of the world’s most popular search engine

Given that everyone seems to find it as easy to use the Google search form as using the telephone, one may argue that we do not need books that tell us how to search.

However, anyone who have studied search engines like Google more closely, knows that most users doesn’t even scratch the surface of what the search engine has to offer. They are presented with a space ship, but use it as a bike.

“I first wrote about Google in 1999 on,” Chris Sherman says, “just weeks after the search engine was born. This books represents the distillation of everything Google-related that I’ve observed, experimented with, and been captivated by since.”

And it is this that makes Google Power such a good book.

So what do you get?

You do, of course, get the regular introduction to how the search engine works, the Google interface, and advanced search syntax (Boolean or menu based). There is, for instance, a whole chapter devoted to those small and nifty “field” search operators that lets you limit your search to a specific site, domain, title text and more.

The book also tells you have to read the search results, and distinguish between, let’s say, regular organic search results and pay per click text ads.

However, what makes this book extra interesting is what it tells you about all the additional services provided by Google, i.e. the world beyond the regular search engine.

In short: Chris gives you an abundance of information, more than any other search guide we have read.

Librarians, researchers and journalist will find this information to be very valuable. However, this is also a book for the regular web searcher. It is highly recommended!

On innovation in the search engine industry: John Battelle’s book The Search.

Search engine experts have favorably received John Battelle’s book on the search engine industry, The Search. Pandia agrees: This is a highly recommended book.

The search engine industry is revealing because of its ability to combine hard university science with applied product development, marketing and public relation skills. Google excels at this, but some of the other actors are equally clever in their approaches: Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves, MSN.

However, search engine history is filled with failures, and some of them read like text books on how not to run an innovative company. The rise and fall of AltaVista is a good example of this, and that story is excellently described in John Battelle’s new book The Search.

Indeed, on one level this is a book about the history of web search.

John Battelle’s book gives you a glimpse into the world behind the gee wiz headlines. He tells you about the individual entrepreneurs driving innovation in this area, and not only giants like Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google.

Who is John Battelle? Well, he is one of the most respected search engine observers at the moment, making his web log one of the most popular in this field.

He is a co funding editor of Wired and the founder of the Industry Standard.

Because of this he has an extended network of contacts and friends in the industry, giving him access to some of the most important players in this area. Indeed, the book is partly based on interviews Battelle has made with CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Finally, the book may also serve as a beginner’s introduction to search engine technologies, their past and their possible future.

If the book has any weaknesses, it may be that it is very US-centric. European search engine companies, like Norwegian Fast, are for instance given a few paragraphs only.

That being said, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in innovation in the search engine industry.

Web Search Garage - a comprehensive introduction to Internet searching

Tara Calishain is one of the most respected Web search experts in the world, so when she publishes a book, searchers pay attention.

Her new book, called Web Search Garage, takes a new approach to web search tutorial writing.

This is not primarily an introduction to the ins and outs of the various search engines (although she will tell you how to use them), but a book with a wider scope.

She goes beyond the traditional search engines and tells us about a lot of tools and techniques that will let you harvest the information you need on the World Wide Web.

To give you a few examples: The book includes an excellent chapter on the use of online tools and gadgets, including toolbars, bookmark organizers and browsers. Another one introduces you to the art of using online communities as a source of information, including tips on searching the Usenet.

Regular search engines may be used to find news, jobs, images, lyrics, definitions, old friends and relatives, but there are better tools out there that are fine tuned for this kind of information retrieval.

Did you know about reference-type Web sites like RefDesk, Your Dictionary or Tara is bound to make your bookmark list a bit longer.

We like this book very much, not only for the fact that she has introduced us to online resources even we at Pandia didn't know about, but for the fact that she gives us such useful hands-on advice on how to use these various tools.

Moreover she also tells you have to make the most out of the regular search engines. For instance: She not only tells you about how to use Boolean search syntax (see our Goalgetter tutorial), she also explains how to use special syntaxes for restricting searches to specific domains, finding inbound links, using shortcuts for financial information and much more.

In Part II of the book, "Principles of Web Searching", Tara tells you what vocabulary to use to target your searches. In her words: " sometimes you'll need to at least be aware of a certain kind of vocabulary even if you're not an expert, in order to be able to do effective searches." This applies to scholarly and scientific terms, but also to nicknames and other synonyms.

This is probably the best book on web searching available today.

Effective Internet Search

Edward N. Baylin and Judith Gill have written an excellent introduction to internet searching called Effective Internet Search

The amount of information is staggering. There are chapters covering search tools and strategies, search query basics, search examples, and advanced search interfaces. However, the text never gets too complicated, and the book will benefit both professional researchers and web search beginners.

The so-called Reference Manual is just as important as the regular chapters, as it lists the search features and parameters of the search engines covered and gives examples on how to use their search form interfaces.

There is also a large number of external references and links.

The book exists both in a printed version and as an ebook. Given that there are close to 600 pages with text, you cannot read it all on the screen, and the ebook cannot be printed.

Hence you definitely need the printed version of the book. The best option is to buy the printed book as well as the ebook. You can then use the ebook as a reference tool, and get the best out of the hyperlinks found in the ebook.

The Invisible Web

There is much talk about "the invisible" -- or "hidden" -- Web these days, but what is it?

According to search engine experts Chris Sherman and Gary Price the Invisible Web consists of material that general-purpose search engines either cannot or will not include in their collections of Web pages.

In their excellent book The Invisible Web they tell us how to access this information.

Find It Online

Now, this is a great book! Find It Online, The Complete Guide to Online Research, by the Washington author, reporter and producer Alan M. Schlein, is a treasure trove of rare and interesting search tools beyond the world of ordinary search engines and directories.

Here are people finders, mapping tools, yellow pages, government sources, public records, news resources, business tools, and much more. This is the web searching book for professional researchers - librarians, journalists, scientists, investigators, salesmen and information managers - who are looking for detailed information on rather obscure topics. Nevertheless, the accidental searcher will also benefit from browsing this book.

Find It Online does give a short introduction to the gentle art of web searching, as well as on how to use the major search engines. But there are also chapters on how to save and download results, on managing and filtering information, on how to evaluate accuracy, credibility and authority and on the question of privacy and protection. The book includes tips from search experts like Greg Notess and Barbara Quint.

The book has a strong American slant. However, our European readers should not let that stop them from buying it. We have learned a lot reading it.

Deadline Online, the book's companion site, is well worth a visit.

The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines : A Handbook for the Serious Searcher

There is a new updated edition of this book out now (2001)!

Chris Sherman of Search Engine Watch has been extremely enthusiastic about this book. In the site's daily newsletter he says that:

"If I were putting together a desert island collection of books on searching, Randolph Hock's The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines would be at the top of the list. The book, now in its second edition, is one of the most comprehensive, authoritative and just downright useful guides to to what goes on under the hood of the major search services."

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Search Secrets

We have to admit it: Sometimes we find the American idea of creative titling a bit annoying. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Search Secrets"? It is as if we should have called Pandia "The Morons Guide to Web Searching". We will not blame the author, though, as the book is part of a larger series.

Apart form the title, this is an excellent book, and -- no -- you don't have to have an IQ far below the average to enjoy it. Actually, even seasoned researchers will probably learn new tricks reading it.

Michael Miller has written some 30 books on computer-related issues, and he definitely knows the Internet. The books tells you how to use giants like Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos and HotBot in the easy as well as the advanced "Boolean" way. What's even more interesting, he also gives you insight into the use of various specialised search services: white and yellow pages, email directories, business sites, job searching sites, auctions, search engines for pictures and more. We like it!

Search Engines for the World Wide Web

One of our favorite books on web searching at the moment is Search Engines for the World Wide Web by Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner. The Glossbrenners have written books on the most diverse subjects, but that does not mean that they do not do their homework. Their skills in popularizing difficult topics makes this an excellent book for newcomers to Internet searching, but it also includes information that could be useful for more seasoned (re)searchers.

The authors give each of six major search engines--Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and HotBot--its own chapter, with charts for fast reference and complete descriptions of each engine's query terms for improved performance. An introductory chapter discusses the basics of searching--unique keywords, Boolean operators, and "the Seven Habits of Effective Web Searches". Other chapters cover hunting for Usenet newsgroups, mailing lists, people, companies, and specific topics and subjects.

The third edition is from May 2001.

Note: This is archived version of previously published article. Much of the content on this article may be outdated now. Originally written by Per and Susanne Koch. First published on January 2000.