About Search Engines

The Internet is a collection of web sites that is huge in quantity and growing everyday by quantum numbers. In order to locate anything, you must either know the web site address and go to it, stumble on it by accident, or have someone else tell you the correct address. The first happens more and more these days. People have web site addresses on business cards, on billboards, on TV and many other forms of advertising that for many years, a conventional address has been given. While the percentages are going up on this form of location, it is still exceptionally specific. While you may be looking for cars and find one car site, that rarely offers comparisons of alternative brands.

Seldom do you stumble on what you want, when you want it. The site URL is often not exactly what you are looking for; sometimes it is. Those few times it is, you may get lucky. However, the best way to find what you want is to have someone tell you where to look, based on what you asked of it. That someone is a search engine. OK, technically it is not someone but you get the idea.

The search engine accumulates a database of websites and the information contained on them. You then query the database about something specific. The database returns the information it thinks might be helpful to you based on keywords you have entered. Notice we said that it returns "what it thinks" you want.

How it stores the data of what is on a given site, how it obtained the information about the site, when it obtained the information and how you asked the search engine for what you want determines the accuracy and validity of what the search engine returns to you.

There are different kinds of search engines; there are many different ways the engines get information. There are different ways to ask search engines for them to give you information. There are many different search engines and search sites and there are few, if any, standardized ways to do anything.

Most search engines use robots, often called 'bots, D2s, lookers, searchers, crawlers, spiders, worms or ants, to go to a web site, look at the pages and build an information database. Again, there are few standards but most use specific wording that they find in the coding of the web pages to record information about key words and the content of the page. Some look through all or most of the text on a page. Some do both. Some examples (in 2000) of the "highest rated engines" that use robots are Alta Vista, WebCrawler, Excite and Lycos. Yahoo, still uses a person to look at and enter a site's information into the database. Some search engines don't really search; they just post information you tell it to record. Some search engines use bulletin board like structures, often termed communities. They all have the same purpose of helping you to find information faster.

Some search engines only store information about a specific subject. Some, such as meta-engines, actually don't have databases of their own and don't do any research. They ask other search engines, more than one at a time, for the data you are looking to find.

The CSGNetwork compilation of information about search engines, search sites and link sites is the largest on the Internet. Often one search engine will have nothing on a particular subject that may be of interest to you; others will have many options of different sites about that subject. Don't give up if you can't find what you want at one site; try another! Often the meta-engines will give information from many different engines and present it in an intelligent way for your perusal. Our experience has been that the more specific you can be about your subject though key words, the better results you will get from the top rated engines. If you are only using one or two key words, use a meta engine to get results from many different sources. If you are looking for medical answers, as an example, you may also wish to look at a medical search engine. Special purpose, specific engines often have information about one subject that general search engines do not. Use multiple sources and use different approaches. This site is unique in that it allows you to easily find and use thousands of different databases from thousands of engines to find information. Enjoy the opportunities it affords you. Good searching...

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