|Searching the WWW involves using a search
engine, a directory, or some combination of these two. Because there is
so much information on the Web, good and bad, finding what you want is
not an exact science and can be time consuming. Though many search engines
rank material according to their idea of what is relevant, that doesn't
mean the material is relevant to want you want or is reliable. The information
is only as good as the source of the material itself, not the search engine
that found the material.
Search engines use specialized software
to create their listings automatically. A "spider" (or crawler) "crawls"
the web, for example, by visiting a web page periodically, reading it,
and following the links. An index (or catalog) of the entire web is then
compiled from the spider's search. The search software looks through the
index to find matches to a user's search terms and ranks them in order
of perceived relevance. The higher the number the more relevant that particular
search engine thinks a "hit" is. The search service's idea of relevancy
may or may not be relevant for your purposes.
Meta "crawlers" search a number of
search engines at one time.
WWW site creators may submit their sites
for inclusion in a subject listing or a directory manager may find them.
Companies can also pay to be included in search results. The search software
looks for matches only from the chosen sites. The search software can only
operate under the parameters set up by the programmer. They all work differently.
Majpr brpwsers allow you to search by just
typing in keywords into the Web browser location "box."
Because there are so many URL's contained
in a database, getting search results which are relevant may take some
time and know-how. Because search engines work differently, using the same
search words in different search services may get you different results.
Each search service provides useful tips for searching its own database.
Some search services are case sensitive; some let you use phrase; some
rank relevancy of results (Search services or engines which have relevancy
ranking means that the higher the number in the ranking, the more relevant
Don't limit yourself to one search engine.
Check the search engines for their specific ways to refine your search.
Be prepared to revise your search. Compare results using different search
services. Using synonyms sometimes helps. Search services and engines don't
know what would be relevant to your particular search. Since companies
can now pay to be included in searches, the "hits" might include entries
that are there merely because the business paid to have their company appear
in search results. Sometimes you may get results that are relatively
meaningless. Searching is by no means an exact science. But, like using
a library database, the terms you plug in affect the results you get back.
Most major search engines also allow you
to search for online forums, newsgroups, images, and other categories of
Don't just rely on the Internet for serious
research. A significant amount of scholarly research has not reached the
Internet or is protected from public access by "members only" subscriptions.
Don't neglect your library databases for scholarly resources.
Google is a leader in search engines.
According to John Markoff and G. Pascal Zachary, as of April 2003,
Google "handles 200 million searches of the Web each day, a staggering
one-third of the estimated daily total. Google, they say, handles " hundreds
of thousands of queries simultaneously from all over the globe, each in
less than half a second"( In Searching the Web, Google Finds Riches,
Y Times, 4/13/2003).
The Vivisimo search engine, developed by
researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, uses an automatic
document clustering technology. According to PR Newswire,
April 8, 2003, Vivisimo's "breakthrough clustering and meta-search products
retrieve textual information from one or multiple sources and automatically
organize[s] the combined results" into relevant folders."
Most search engines allow you to use Boolean
are Boolean Operators?
Boolean operators or words or symbols which
help you create specific relationships among keywords or phrases "OR,"
"NOT," "AND," or "NEAR" commands. Often there is a
separate box in the search service or engine in which to place your Boolean
operators. Some search services do not use Boolean operators.