Google’s index reached a trillion pages last year, but that doesn’t mean it (or other large search engines, like Yahoo) will always understand the exact intent of your search and yield results that have the information you really want.
If Google isn’t coming up with quite what you were looking for, you may want to turn to other people for help instead of relying on algorithms. On mahalo.com, guides provide reviews and comments on Web sites to help bring up more relevant results. You’re also likely to find deeper content by using topic-specific search engines known as vertical-interest sites, such as snooth.com, a search engine and community site for wine lovers, or organizedwisdom.com, a search site for health information. Besides narrowing down the field, vertical-interest sites often offer useful services as well.
Seamlessweb.com, for example, not only includes menus and restaurant reviews but also lets users searching for lunch order it online.
Keep in mind that many smaller engines require you to submit some personal information so they can optimize search results. And of course, to find these types of sites in the first place, you’ll probably have to start with some Googling.
Kevin M. Ryan is chairman of the advisory board of the Search Engine Strategies conference series.
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