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Keywords: Web searching, search engines
Title: Effective Internet Search
Authors: Ed Baylin and Judith Gill
Publisher: Baylin Systems
Media: Book, eBook
Verdict: Lots of content let down by poor design
For the vast majority of users web searching is a pretty hit and miss affair. Hit Google, type in a word or phrase and then go for one of the first pages that's listed. If this were not so people wouldn't get so wound up about their Google ranking and the world of SEO would be a lot smaller than it is. It doesn't have to be this way, of course. Using a search engine effectively can yield better (more relevant, higher quality) results in a shorter space of time. There are a number of books and web sites that can help the reader become more effective, including Google Hacks and Web Search Garage, both reviewed on TechBookReport. Effective Internet Search is very much in the same vein as the latter titles.
Available both as an eBook and on paper, this review is very much based on the hard copy version. Unlike Google Hacks, which is focused on just on Google, this book is focused on a number of search engines and tools, including Google, Yahoo, MSN and Copernic Agent. Again there's a very strong degree of cross-over between this book and Web Search Garage.
The content of the book covers topics such as the differences between catalogs and indexes, meta-data searches, using Boolean operators, case studies, using wild cards and so on. Unfortunately the design of the book is not very effective and can often get in the way of the content. The biggest problem is that the book looks like it's been designed as a web page - there are lots (and lots) of tables, different fonts, what look like hyper-links, icons, little graphics. While that might work on a web page it's less effective in a book.
There are lots of excellent books that are also available online or in electronic versions - from Bruce Eckel's Thinking In Java to Dive Into Python. But for it to work the original design needs to be sparing in the use of fonts, graphics, tables and so on. The design simply has to work as a book and as a web page or PDF - in this case it doesn't work well enough. This is a shame as the book does contain some solid information and some good ideas.
In addition to the chapters on search strategies and techniques, the book also includes a large reference section. This reference manual on search engine features in-depth material on Google, AlltheWeb, AltaVista, MSN and Copernic. It provides details on numerous advanced search options, user interface and control settings. Again there is a lot of content here, but it doesn't translate especially well to paper.