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 first two chapters alone are worth the price of the book. The first chapter, "Search Engines in General," covers the history of search engines, how they're put together, how they rank documents, and much more. Although only 30 pages, this chapter is an excellent overview that demystifies and explains search engine operation.
Chapter Two is a primer on searching options. Boolean logic is covered, as are most of the "advanced" options available to the intrepid searchers who want to exercise maximum control over their results.
Each of the next eight chapters features an in-depth examination of a major search engine or directory. Hock doesn't just merely describe features and options -- he beats on each service, highlighting strengths and unabashedly detailing weaknesses. Hock has years of experience searching high-quality information services and holds the web search services to similar high standards.
The chapters on individual engines provide the searcher with just about everything you need to know to get maximum performance from the service. Hock provides an overview, takes you behind the scenes, and explores all of the unique features of each engine, illustrating his descriptions with helpful examples.
There's a chapter each covering AltaVista, Excite, FAST, Google, HotBot, Lycos, Northern Light, and Yahoo. The last two chapters are dedicated to metasearch engines and other search tools, and the crucial subject of keeping up with all of the changes in the world of web search.
Throughout the book, you'll find screen shots annotated with arrows and descriptive captions. Hock also freely dispenses tips and examples that will help you get the most out of each search engine.
With all of this great information packed between the covers of the book, The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines is a worthy addition to every serious searcher's bookshelf.
The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines
Disclosure: CyberAge Books is the publisher of my forthcoming book, The Invisible Web, co-authored with Gary Price. Apart from this relationship, I have no further professional connection with either CyberAge Books or with the author of The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines.
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