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Library Home: Google Searching

Google Market Share 2010

Search Engine Comparison - Share of Search Queries

(Source: The Nielsen Company July 2010.)

Is Google the Best Place to Start?

Five reasons not to use Google first

  1. Google gives you the good with the bad, a mixture of trustworthy and not-so-trustworthy web sites. On the internet there is no standardized review process by editors, publishers, and librarians and very little control over what is being published. A website could be created by anyone, with few or no credentials, and they could present misinformation, biased information or false information.   It takes time and effort to check the validity and reliability of every website, and very few students would regularly do this.

  2. Google’s priority ranking system is determined by software and is dependant, to a large extent, on how many times a particular website has been linked to by others – i.e. its popularity.  However popular websites are not necessarily truthful or trustworthy. When these sites are listed first, students search them first, thus reinforcing the number of links to them and ensuring they stay near the top of the rankings.

  3. Google returns too many results. Students rarely search beyond the first one or two pages of results, and if they haven’t been taught to search properly, they can keep retrieving the same sites again and again. They need to be taught the techniques of power searching – effective ways to access high-quality information – otherwise they will waste a lot of time viewing irrelevant websites.  (Beyond Google – 15 Tools and Strategies for Improving Your Web Search Results)

  4. Google (and other popular search engines) are unreliable at searching the deep web, peer-reviewed or refereed content.  Google only searches a small percentage of the content available on the web, information  referred to as the visible web or the surface web. According to BrightPlanet, the “total quality content of the Deep Web is at least 1,000 to 5,000 times greater than that of the Surface Web.” The invisible or deep web often requires the use of passwords to access the information (e.g. subscription databases) or these sites use their own search engines, thus effectively blocking Google from accessing them.

  5. Advertisments, links and pop-ups are displayed on websites for profit, and can distract students when researching.

Useful Links

How a Google Search Works

Next Steps in Google Search

Google Scholar