Site Visit: Lycos

Lycos is a comparatively small search engine that indexes only about 26 million pages. It’s easy to use, but the results you’ll get from it are quite limited. Like HotBot and AltaVista, Lycos has added a browse-able directory to its capabilities. Closer inspection reveals an interesting feature. Lycos provides a simple search page and an advanced one, as the other major search engines do. The best feature in the simple search is the pull-down menu that lets you limit where and what you search. Of course you can search the Web, but you can also search only through download sites if you’re looking for a new piece of productivity software. Or you can look just in news groups, or Reuters news wires. And, perhaps most importantly, you can also limit your search to personal home pages on Geocities and Tripod – a useful tool for finding passive candidates. To refine your simple searches, use “+” to require certain words and “-” to exclude others. On the advanced page, you’ll find additional options that give you more flexibility. You can request up to 40 results per page rather than the standard 10. You also can choose how often and where the keywords you’re looking for should appear. We tried a search for Cobol programmers in personal home pages. Ideally, the ability to choose a high keyword frequency and keywords near the beginning of the page should bring back more reliable results. The results we got were mixed. On first glance, it appeared that Lycos had not followed our direction and had searched the Web rather than just home pages. When we looked more carefully at the screen, we found we needed to click onto another page in order to limit the results to what we had asked for. This seems a needless step, but worth the time nevertheless. When we finally got to the home pages we were rewarded with resume after resume after resume. Could we have found the same ones (and more) on HotBot and AltaVista? Yes, after a while. Certainly not as easily as using Lycos to do it. Lycos indexes only about 26 million Web pages and the freshness of its index is debatable. The spider it uses to create the index seems undependable and it’s hard to tell how often it visits a site. Clearly, Lycos doesn’t provide the kind of Web database that both HotBot and AltaVista do. But, Lycos does make a search of personal home pages relatively painless. And, since some major search engines don’t index pages at virtual communities like Tripod, Geocities or Angelfire, this can be a useful resource. Next week: More sites to see at: InfoSeek.

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Jennifer Hicks, a seasoned Internet researcher who writes extensively on the use of the Internet for job hunters and recruiters, is a contributor to AIRS research. The AIRS Search Guide acts as your personal trainer, guiding you through our Advanced Internet Recruitment Strategies (AIRS) in a highly illustrated offline magazine. Each issue is full of new sourcing strategies, search examples, step-by-step procedures, and AIRS latest research for finding high-value passive candidates on the Internet. Contact AIRS at searchguide@airsproducts.com

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