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Home > Jan's CompLit 101 > Working with the Web > Browser Basics > Exercise: Web 1-5
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Jan's Working with the Web

    Browser Basics: Exercise Web 1-5

You will use several search services to see if they will find the same pages and how appropriate the pages are for your search. You will compare searching with a single word, two words, and a phrase. You will have something to write for each step below.

If your instructor permits, you may combine your efforts with other students. In this case, all should use the same words but in different search sites. Then you can combine your results to see how well different services worked.

If you need to refresh your memory about searching, refer back to Searching, Searching: Search Engine and Searching: Web Directory.

Exercise Web 1-5:  Search

Purpose: to compare how various search services work

What you will do: Use the same search words on several search services
Compare the results
Make a recommendation about the search services

  1. Searching for? What you are going to looking for exactly? You must define what a page must have to count it as a successful hit. For example, should it contain a copy of the Constitution of the United States of America, or the budget for the United Nations, or information on the Heartbleed security bug? Feel free to choose something that you really do need to find out, perhaps for another class.
  2. Phrase: Select a phrase of at least 2 keywords related to your search goal. Do not count words like a, an, the, but, and … which are ignored by the search programs.
    For example, United States Constitution or United Nations budget or Heartbleed bug. Do not use upper case letters unless you really are looking for a proper name.
  3. Search services: Choose 3 search services and 1 metasearch site. You may use the links on the My Home or links in the lesson earlier, if you wish.
  4. Features: List the special features that each of the search services offers such as searching only pages in a certain language or containing images or newer than last month or for people and company names. Do any of these features look especially helpful for your search? If so, include a search using the feature and also one without using it to see if it really does help you find pages that are more what you want.
  5. Results Table: Make a table similar to the example below to record your results. You can use a Word table or Excel.

    Include the name of the search service and its URL and any special features used, what word(s) were used for the search, the total number of pages found in each search, and any good matches in the first 25 results.

    If there were no exact matches, write in the last column your evaluation of how close to a match the first 25 results were.

    You should have at least 3 search services and 1 metasearch site with 5 searches in each, similar to the example.

    Note in your chart if you restricted the search in some way using one of the special features of the search engine. A true search engine will not have categories or a directory, but most major sites are combinations these days.

    Search results for Jerusalem virusIcon: Off site,

    This virus is an old (1987+) computer virus. It activates on Friday 13th and deletes any programs that are run on that day. Not friendly!
    [table statistics below from May 12, 2014]

    Searching for info on the Jerusalem computer virus

    Search service

    Word(s) / Phrase

    Categories found

    Pages in directory found

    Pages on the Web found



    http://yahoo.com for web pages

    http://dmoz.com/ for categories


    10 top level



    None in first 3 pages


    13 top level



    Several pages to sites about computer viruses which probably have info. Good places to start.

    virus Jerusalem




    Several successes on first page.

    jerusalem virus




    Several successes on first page.

    +jerusalem +virus




    Several successes on first page.

    "jerusalem virus"




    Nearly all on the first page

  6. Icon: Class diskSave your table to the web project1 folder on your Class disk as ex1-5-Lastname-Firstname.docx if you used Word or as ex1-5-Lastname-Firstname.xlsx if you used Excel.
  7. Analysis: Write a brief evaluation of the services you used in a Word document. Which would you recommend and why. How well did each service do? Which found the most pages? Which found the most relevant pages? Which search words found the most relevant pages? What features of a web page did each search engine treat as most important?
  8. Icon: Class disk Save your evaluation as ex1-5-evaluation-Lastname-Firstname.docx to the web project1 folder of your Class disk.
  9. Print icon Print both of the documents you created for this exercise.

This is the last exercise in Browser Basics. In the next project you will learn about writing HTML pages.