Internet search tactics

Alastair G. Smith (School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Publication date: 17 February 2012



Bates' information search tactics have been influential in the practice and teaching of online searching since they were published in 1979. This paper is about using information search tactics to search the internet, and aims to present a set of tactics useful in the practice and teaching of internet searching.


Tactics used on the internet were gathered from the literature, web sites, and the author's experience of internet searching. These were compared with the information search tactics, and refined into a set of internet search tactics.


The article presents 34 internet search tactics: 18 of the original Bates tactics, interpreted in the context of the internet, and 16 new tactics. While many of the information search tactics are relevant, effective internet searching requires recognition of the role of relevancy ranking and full text searching in search engines. The uncontrolled nature of the internet means that evaluation of information resources is an integral part of internet searching, so a group of evaluation tactics have been proposed.

Practical implications

The tactics provide a framework for teaching effective internet searching.


Bates' information search tactics do not appear to have been applied as a whole to searching the internet. The proposed tactics will be useful for librarians and researchers who need to carry out effective searching on the internet, and for information literacy education. Research into information seeking and search interfaces will be informed by the tactics.



Smith, A. (2012), "Internet search tactics", Online Information Review, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 7-20.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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