Even a week after it first made news, Hurricane Ivan remains one of the most popular search queries on the Internet. The Wordtracker Top 500 Search Engine Keywords of the Week list released earlier this week showed Hurricane Ivan to be the most searched for phrase of the past 24 hours. Hurricane Ivan also entered the Lycos Top 50 report last week ranking as the 8th most searched for phrase on the Lycos network, and made the top of the list of Google's Zeitgeist chart of fastest growing search queries on their engine. (Incidentally, Hurricane Frances is number one on the list of declining queries this week at Google.)

As few as five or six years ago most coastal residents had to rely on radio, television and newspapers to get late breaking news on any hurricanes or tropical storms that might be headed their way. These days, with the majority of the U.S. population online, up-to-date news, forecasts and even radar images are a simple search away. While cable news has made 24 hour coverage an expected part of any breaking story, not everyone has time to wait for reporters to cycle through to the story they're waiting for. Additionally, office workers or travelers often have a far easier time getting to Web sites than to the nearest television set.

Online news engines and media sites have worked tirelessly to provide non-stop coverage of Hurricane Ivan through email subscriptions that send breaking news alerts, TV-quality video feeds direct from affected areas, and continually updated blogs from reporters and residents alike. Knowing where to find these resources can make your Hurricane Ivan search go much more quickly.

Google News Alerts are a fast, free solution to having the latest stories delivered right to your email, saving you the hassle of visiting the site and typing Hurricane Ivan in as your query. Simply fill out a quick form asking for your search phrase, what you'd like alerts for (news, web or both), and how often you'd like to receive updates. Google takes it from there and sends you a quick email update anytime Hurricane Ivan is mentioned in a news story.

Yahoo!'s full coverage area features editor-selected resources that can help you find the latest information on Hurricane Ivan, it's path, and the damage it's caused. Related Web sites feature valuable links to sites like NOAA, FEMA and radar outlets, while updated news sources highlight articles and video feeds that may be of interest. ABCNews.com offers a slightly more complex news alert service, sending breaking news direct to your RealOne Video player.

If traditional news coverage isn't your cup of tea, there's no shortage of Web blogs and discussion boards that are talking about Hurricane Ivan. While not known to contain the most accurate news online, they do often present an individual perspective on events taking place around the world. Sources like Daypop, a news and blog search engine, help searchers locate articles and information by searching through a collection of over 59,000 news sites, Web logs and RSS feeds. Special features like the "News Bursts" and the "Daypop Top 40" allow you to see what topics are being most frequently discussed in the blogging community

The vast amount of news related search engines are handy, but what if you're looking for some general background on hurricanes and not just on Hurricane Ivan? Well, there are plenty of informational sites like online encyclopedias and weather resources that you can check out.

Whether you are sitting in the comfort of your west coast home looking for Hurricane Ivan related news stories, or sitting in your car to power your laptop and cell phone so that you can hop online and get the latest satellite feed, the Internet has forever changed the way we search for information.
September 15, 2004

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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