Top 18 Web Categories

To give you a sense of what’s available on the Web, we’ve put together a list of categories where, in general, you’ll be far better off searching an web resource than a general-purpose search engine. Our purpose here is to simply provide a quick overview of each category, noting one or two good web resources for each.
  • Public Company Filings. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and regulators of equity markets in many other countries require publicly traded companies to file certain documents on a regular schedule or whenever an event may have a material effect on the company. These documents are available in a number of locations, including company Web sites.
  • Telephone Numbers. Just as telephone white pages serve as the quickest and most authoritative offline resource for locating telephone numbers, a number of web services exist solely to find telephone numbers.
  • Customized Maps and Driving Directions. Mapblast and Mapquest are designed specifically to provide these interactive services.
  • Clinical Trials. Clinical trials by their very nature generate reams of data, most of which is stored from the outset in databases.
  • Patents. Thoroughness and accuracy are absolutely critical to the patent searcher. Major business decisions involving significant expense or potential litigation often hinge on the details of a patent search, so using a general-purpose search engine for this type of search is effectively out of the question.
  • Out of Print Books. The growth of the Web has proved to be a boon for bibliophiles. Countless out of print booksellers have established Web sites, obliterating the geographical constraints that formerly limited their business to local customers. Simply having a Web presence, however, isn’t enough. Problems with depth of crawl issues, combined with a continually changing inventory, make catalog pages from used booksellers obsolete or inaccurate even if they do appear in the result list of a general-purpose search engine.
  • Library Catalogs. There are thousands of Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs) available on the Web, from national libraries like the U.S. Library of Congress and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, academic libraries, local public libraries, and many other important archives and repositories. OPACs allow searches for books in a library by author, title, subject, keywords, or call number, often providing other advanced search capabilities.
  • Authoritative Dictionaries. Need a word definition? Go directly to an authoritative online dictionary.
  • Environmental Information. Need to know who’s a major polluter in your neighborhood? Want details on a specific country’s position in the Kyoto Treaty?
  • Historical Stock Quotes. Many people consider stock quotes to be ephemeral data, useful only for making decisions at a specific point in time. Stock market historians and technical analysts, however, can use historical data to compile charts of trends that some even claim to have a certain amount of predictive value. There are numerous resources available that contain this information.
  • Historical Documents and Images. You’ve seen that generalpurpose search engines don’t handle images well. This can be a problem with historical documents, too, as many historical documents exist on the Web only as scanned images of the original.
  • Company Directories. Competitive intelligence has never been easier thanks to the Web. There are numerous country or region specific company directories.
  • Searchable Subject Bibliographies. Bibliographies are gold mines for scholars and other researchers. Because bibliographies generally conform to rigid formats specified by the MLA or the AP, most are stored in searchable online databases, covering subjects ranging from Architecture to Zoology.
  • Economic Information. Governments and government agencies employ entire armies of statisticians to monitor the pulse of economic conditions. This data is often available online, but rarely in a form visible to most search engines.
  • Award Winners. Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938? You might be able to learn that it was Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (Lord Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil) via web.
  • Job Postings. Looking for work? Or trying to find the best employee for a job opening in your company? Good luck finding what you’re looking for using a general-purpose search engine.
  • Philanthropy and Grant Information. Show me the money! If you’re looking to give or get funding, there are literally thousands of clearinghouses on the web that exist to match those in need with those willing and able to give.
  • Translation Tools. Web-based translation services are not search tools in their own right, but they provide a valuable service when a search has turned up documents in a language you don’t understand. Translation tools accept a URL, fetch the underlying page, translate it into the desired language and deliver it as a dynamic document.