Like many other people who go online, I use Google (www.google.com) as my everyday search engine. About 45 percent of all searches in the United States are done with Goggle, according to Nielsen NetRatings Search Engine Ratings.
When Google doesn t produce, I turn to Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com), a distant second in popularity (23 per cent of all searches), MSN (www.msn.com), a consistent third (about 13 per cent), and several other search engines.
Some are metasearch engines like Dogpile (www.dogpile.com), which shotgun a request to several search engines at the same time.
No matter which is your personal favorite, take off the blinders and explore all of its features.
For years, for instance, I thought Google was odd in offering such a bland home page. Take a look, and compare it to Yahoo and MSN.
Google has no news, sports, weather, or financial information.
Although I searched mainly with Google, I picked Yahoo as my home page on the Internet in order check news and information more easily.
A home page is the first page that appears when you launch Internet Explorer. You can change it easily. Click Tools on the Internet Explorer toolbar, choose Internet Options, and make your change in the Home page area.
While on the Google search page one day, I clicked the News link, and was amazed to find a wonderful new page like the Yahoo and MSN home pages. A click on Tools, Internet Options, and Use Current in the home page area made Google s news page my new home page. I search right from the page where I also can check news, weather, and sports.
One often overlooked feature on most search engines are links for specialized searches. Most people just keyboard in their search terms and do a general search on the Web. Focused searches often are more productive, if you re looking just for news items, images, video, or shopping sites.
On Yahoo, for instance, take a look at that small print near the top of the home page: Select Search Category. At MSN it is: Select a Category. If you want to search just in those categories, keyboard in the search words, and then click on the link.
Google just lists the links, assuming that everyone knows these are specific search categories. I just discovered that the Google link for Froogle opens a wonderful online shopping search that includes hundreds of obscure mail order catalogues.
OK, call me dumb. I had no idea what Froogle meant. The computer folks may make a big mistake by assuming everyone knows the meaning of technospeak mumbo-jumbo like that. It s not informative, and deters people from checking out useful features and information.
Google s link for Groups actually allows searches of the Usenet, a worldwide discussion system that includes newsgroups, which are forums for discussing hundreds of topics. Anyone can read the content, and post their own messages.