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A very powerful feature of the World Wide Web is its ability to search for information on just about any topic from Albania to Zoogeography. There are now millions if not billions of pages of information on the World Wide Web on every subject imaginable. Being able to find information is very important. Without good tools to do this you'd never be able to locate anything amongst all this richness. After you find the information you want, you can mark your place with a bookmark and return to it frequently and quickly.

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine is a computer program on the World Wide Web. Its main purpose is to search the Internet for information you are interested in. When you submit a 'keyword' to the search engine it searches the internet for any document or resource it can find that contains the word or phrase you gave it.

There are now many search engines and they all work a little differently. Some allow you to search in various sophisticated ways using multiple criteria and so-called Boolean operators (conjunctions like 'and', 'or', 'not', etc.). They often sort through the matches they find and priorize their results, presenting you with what they consider are their 'best' matches. This may mean that they found the phrase most often in these pages or they used some other more complex criteria to determine what is 'best'.

The results you get can vary greatly. If you look for a very common word or phrase such as 'information' or 'rock & roll' you will likely get a listing of thousands (or tens of thousands!) of documents!

If there are too many to easily look through, consider refining and narrowing your search criteria (i.e. 'sybase databases' or 'Elvis Presley' to get the number of matches down to a manageable number.

If there are too few or none at all, look to see how you have specified the search. Maybe you have structured it in some way that is too restrictive? Try an alternate phrase that is related to the topic you are interested in. Or, it might just be that there really isn't any information on the topic you are interested in!

The World Wide Web isn't under any central direction or control. This means that the information there is the assembled sum of whatever people have had the time, energy and inclination to write and place there. There might be a great deal about one topic, but next to nothing on another.

If you are interested in music there might be scores of sites that have information on Johan Sebastian Bach but none that have anything about Giovanni Luigi Palestrina. The solution: write something yourself and add it to the Web! The World Wide Web is a global community. You too can play a part and contribute to what it contains.

Now, let's look at Web Searching in Detail.

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