Specialized search engines boost hit rates

The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels. File photo   | Photo Credit: Virginia Mayo

For quick online answers, Google, Yahoo and Bing remain the place to go.

But, as all-encompassing as these search engines are, their results are sometimes a tad imprecise, especially when searching for less mundane information, like that from scientific sources or certain blogs. Here’s where specialized search engines can help further.

These focus on certain areas and deliver far more precise results in these fields, says Dirk Lewandowski, a professor at the College for Applied Science in Hamburg, Germany. Algorithms allow the precision, combing through the web, not only for html tags, but also for databases ignored by the universal engines.

Scirus is a good platform for scientific investigations, he says.

“Scirus looks to sources that are usually ignored in standard searches.” Meanwhile, Gopubmed is the go-to engine for medical research.

Wolfgang Sander-Beuermann of a search engine laboratory at Germany’s University of Hanover says the engine delivers results that people can’t find anywhere else.

“Searching with standard search engines delivers much too general information without specifics to track scientific content,” says Mr. Lewandowski.

Of course, Google has tried to fix this with its Scholar engine, which tries to deliver more scholarly results.

The biggest names in this field focus on niches. Google, Yahoo and Bing all offer services for surfers looking for specific news.

“The advantage of these specialized searches is that a generalized search can’t be as up-to-date as a user might like from his news,” says Mr. Lewandowski. Blog searches have also forced the engines to come up with special services.

It’s different when it comes to real-time content. OneRiot is the engine for that job. It can search Twitter posts by URL, looking for content currently being recommended by Twitter users.

“The search parameters are thus drastically reduced, making OneRiot a good example of a well-focused search in a specialized area,” says Mr. Lewandowski.

Meanwhile, Scoopler searches other portals beyond Twitter — think Digg, Delicious or Flickr — where people share information.

Opencrawl delivers up results from about 80 scientific fields, from astronomy to agriculture. “The results come up without the usual search engine junk that usually shows up in the results of bigger engines, especially the commercial ones,” says Mr. Sander-Beuermann.

Of course, he might be a bit biased, as he helped get that particular project off the ground thanks to SuMa-eV, a society for access to scientific data.

Other services in Germany offer specialized search data for consumer data and those interested in news on organic produce.

Specialized job search engines have also cropped up, with special filters for jobs and regions.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 2:55:39 AM |

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