Comparing Search Tools

Common Search Tools & Search Engines

There are many different search tools, and you probably use quite a few without thinking about them, such as artificial intelligence (AI) assistants. Examples include Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Bixby. AI assistants are usually voice activated and will search the internet for answers to your questions, suggest resources for you to look at for information related to your question, and perform tasks such as turning on lights or creating a shopping list.

Another type of search tool that you probably use is a search engine. Search engines are online tools that search for web pages based on keywords. Many of these are now embedded in your browsers to make searching online easier, but each have their own websites as well that you can search from. The big names in this area are Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Though they may bring back different search results, they function overall using the same main principle: to bring back as many relevant results as possible. How each one defines and determines what is “relevant” may differ, and their criteria and methods are typically not transparent to the user.

Other Tools

Besides search engines, there are other online search tools that you might be familiar with but didn’t know what to call them, such as Yelp. There, you can search for businesses and learn information about those businesses, often including links to their websites. Yelp doesn’t search the Web; rather, it maintains its own records and links for those businesses. Because Yelp controls what it searches and what it lists, it is called a directory. Web directories are search tools that link out to hand-selected websites usually organized by categories or topics.

Determining which search tool is the best to use depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to find the nearest pizza restaurant, using an AI assistant is probably really great; using a directory like Yelp might also be helpful. But what about for our scenario? What type of search tool would be the best to use, do you think?


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Introduction to College Research Copyright © by Walter D. Butler; Aloha Sargent; and Kelsey Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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