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Search Engine Basics for Publishers

Finding Where Your Books Are Mentioned on the Internet

Search engine expertise is absolutely VITAL to your success. I use Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista and Dejanews in that order, as well as some specialized ones. You can select any that feel comfortable to you, but you MUST know how to use them to get results.

  1. There are two types of search engines. Yahoo is like a library card catalog in which entries are made by real human beings. Most of the others are like fishing nets which scoop up web sites and attempt to categorize them. My first search is always at Yahoo, because the keywords are more likely to be appropriate.
  2. Unfortunately, Yahoo doesn't know about everything. And sometimes, I don't even know precisely what I should be calling what I'm looking for. That's where Alta Vista comes it. I prefer Alta Vista for a simple fact: It seems to hit our web site more often than the other search engines do, which leads me to believe it's more likely to be current. But it doesn't matter which one you use, just so long as you're familiar with how it operates.
  3. Skills you need to master:
    • Can you force a require one term in a multi-term search?
    • Do you know how to do compound word searches as opposed to individual words? C) Can you construct and/or searches?
    • Can you figure out how to do synonym-searches. Alta Vista is nice in that it suggests other word possibilities that you might want to search on.
    • Do you know how to narrow a search after you get initial results returned? It's worthwhile to spend a couple of hours just practicing being able to do these things.
  4. Dejanews is often useful in that it's a search engine of Usenet postings. This more often helps you find answers to particular problems, especially of a technical nature. With usenet, you won't find as many "facts" as you will helpful advice. Usenet is also a good way of keeping track of what your competitors are doing.
  5. Specialized search engines. While they aren't really search engines in their own right, you should bookmark and keep useful reference sites. Two excellent examples of this are Pat Bell's Tool Shed and Jim Cox's Midwest Book Review. Both have extremely useful links to publishing-related sites and information. While they may not always have the answer you're looking for, you can often get started going through one of these reference sites. I also find the Mining Company site to be incredibly useful as it has a wealth of information about various topics. The urban legends section is first rate.

Part of the problem we have today is that we all want instant answers. Ask a question, let someone else answer. While that's all well and good, and is a vital function of this list or many others, in doing so you LIMIT the quality of the information to the random knowledge of the person who chose to respond. If it's something that you really need to know, you'll be much better served, in the long run, but at least attempting to do the search yourself initially. That way you'll have an idea of the range of information available. Then, if you're still stumped, ask for advice. You'll have a basis for judging how good that advice truly is.

Eric Anderson
Blaine Software

Finding Where Your Books Are Mentioned on the Internet

As an author or a publisher, you should always be aware of just where your books are mentioned on the web? Who is reviewing them? Where are there links to your Web site?

Keeping track of such important marketing and background information is very easy. Just go to Dogpile and enter the name of your book(s). Dogpile is an excellent Internet tool that will show you where your books are listed or mentioned on many of the search engine sites.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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