Web Stars: Best of the Web

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Search Engines

Google remains the default choice for fast, accurate searches of the Web, reaching deeper into the corners of the free Internet, fighting the good fight for relevant results with no muss or fuss. Behind the seemingly simple facade of its home page, Google abounds with ever-improving Web-based tools, browser add-ons, and international variations. Expect better blog searching soon, thanks to the company's purchase of Web-log phenom Blogger and to geographic searches that tie the physical location of a Web server to the results. Learning how to use Google better can yield a richer payoff than switching search engines.

It's a long drop from No. 1 to No. 2, but Dogpile can work its canine charms even on users who are happy with Google. Every search on Dogpile combines results from several engines and Web directories, including Google, Teoma, Overture, About.com, and many more. Unfortunately, the output is not markedly superior to single-source results. Dogpile's main benefits are the smart 'Refine your results' links, which let you winnow your results using additional search terms that the site guesses (often correctly) in an effort to help you find what you're looking for. Convenient White and Yellow Pages tabs let you use the same search window to track down people and businesses.

AllTheWeb delivers a minimalist, Googlesque user interface and an intuitive advanced search that makes honing results easy. The site's indexes compete head-on with Google's and Yahoo's for both relevance and speed. Looking for a hard-to-find download? Give AllTheWeb's FTP Files search a try. Parents and everyone else sick of Net porn will appreciate the default 'filter out content likely to offend' setting. English-only speakers will like the default filtering of non-English-language Web pages from searches.

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