Search Engines and (Search) Directories

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The Worldwide Web has billions of pages. Each of these pages contains information about something. It could be information about sports and games, the day's news, travel, music, literature, medicine, the rain forests of Brazil, theaters, movies, Antarctica, or even somebody's favorite pet. The Web contains information about virtually anything.

People surf the Web to look for some kind of information, whether it is gambling or brain surgery or your neighborhood bingo club, or whatever. But how do you find the page that contains the information you are looking for? Unless you already know the URL of the page from some source, you use a search engine or a directory which will point you to the right direction. Please refer to glossary for the meaning of the words search engines and directories (search directories).

Search Engines send out robotic programs (known by various names such as spiders, crawlers, scooters, etc.) into the Internet at regular intervals, and these automated programs travel through the Internet following links and records the existence of as many web pages as they can. Then another program called an indexer, indexes each of these pages so that when somebody searches their databases for any keyword or keyphrase, the search engine can present a list of all those pages in their database that contain that keyword or phrase. Since a keyword or phrase may be contained in many web pages, the search engines when presenting the result of your search, ranks them or present them in an order of relevance; the most relevant pages are listed first, and the less relevant pages follows the first one in order of relevance. Different search engines follow different criteria (algorithm) to rank the web pages or to determine which ones are more relevant to the search.

It takes a little practice initially to find quickly what you are looking for. The search can be modified or refined in various ways. For example try a search using the keywords mango chutney. You will be presented with a set of results. Now try the same search using the keywords chutney mango. You will be presented with a different set of results. Many of the pages will be common in both sets of results, but their order of listing will be changed. Now try searching mango chutney recipe and then recipe mango chutney. See for yourself how the results differ. Then there are advanced searches and search within search results. Please read search tips given by most search engines. You can use Boolean search using the words and, or, not. Often times you will be given the option of searching for the exact phrase, all of the words, or any word. To specify exact words or exact phrase you can simply put your words or phrase within quotation marks. Sometimes you can search web pages that are in a particular language or those which originate in a particular country. The search directories usually give the choice to search in a particular category, search the whole directory, or search the web. Please remember to take advantage of these various options. When stuck, please look for help or tip links.

Why don't you practice some searching right now?
Use Google's power to search the World Wide Web and find what you are looking for:

Google

The search directories or simply directories are compiled by human beings and the directories list web sites by categories. The directories (specially the big ones like Yahoo and Open Directory Project) boast about the quality of their databases. They claim since their human editors hand-pick the web sites that get enlisted in their database, you can only find the best sites in each category in their directories. I personally prefer search engines over directories for the following reasons:

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Now that I have given you some idea about how the search engines and directories work, and what are some of the limitations of the directories, let me give you the names and URL's of some of the leading directories and search engines in the United States. They are not in any particular order.

Directories:

1) Open Directory Project (ODP). This is strictly a directory, and they supply information from their database to many other directories and search engines.
http://dmoz.org/

2) Yahoo Directory. Major directory but they have a search engine portal too which has become quite popular.
http://dir.yahoo.com/

3) Google Directory. This is Google's directory portal. But their search engine is far more commonly used throughout the world.
http://dir.google.com/

Search Engines:

1) Google. Most popular search engine used throughout the world. If you cannot find something in Google, it probably does not exist!
http://www.google.com/

2) Yahoo. Yahoo search engine is second only to Google search engine today.
http://www.yahoo.com/

3) Alltheweb. Search engine.
http://www.alltheweb.com/

4) AltaVista. Search engine. They have a directory too.
http://www.altavista.com/

5) Lycos. Search engine.
http://www.lycos.com/

6) Excite. Search engine.
http://www.excite.com/

7) HotBot. Search engine.
http://www.hotbot.com/

8) AOL Search. Search engine. They have a directory too. Click on 'Website Directory'.
http://search.aol.com/aolcom/index.jsp

9) MSN Search. Search engine. They have a directory too.
http://www.msnsearch.com/

10) Ask Jeeves. Search engine.
http://www.ask.com/

11) About. Search engine/Great source of info about virtually anything.
http://www.about.com/

12) Bing. Search engine.
http://www.bing.com/

Remarks: For searching the Web, all you really need is Google search engine. They are the best. No other search engine even come close. I use only Google and I never use any directory. Period.

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