Search engines operate in two ways. Pure search engines are sometimes called spiders, because they 'crawl the Web.' This means that the computer constantly searches through Web pages and remembers what it finds on each one. When you search for a word like 'cat,' these engines will return all the sites on which that word appears. Since that will probably be millions of pages, you should use more than one term to narrow down your search. The other way to search the Web is with a directory. These are put together by people, rather than computers, and sort Web pages by category. Since directories don't actively look for information, their entries are limited to sites that have been submitted by site designers. Searching for 'cat' on a directory will bring back numerous categories ranging from biological classification to home pages devoted to an individual's favorite pet. Searchers can then narrow their search accordingly. An increasing number of search engines combine 'spiders' with directories. This gives users an option about how to find the information they're looking for. When people put up a Web site, they generally submit the site to several search engine sites so that it can be included in directories as well as through the spider. Most search engines offer advanced search features that allow you to find only those sites that contain images or sounds, or those in a given language or that were posted within a given range of dates. To familiarize yourself with the features of the various search engines, you should check them out individually. Yahoo is the Web's oldest and most comprehensive directory. Looking for search engines on Yahoo will give you a comprehensive listing. Just go to W-W-W-dot-Yahoo-dot com and start searching for ways to search. Some of the major ones to check out are Infoseek, Lycos, Webcrawler, Excite, and Alta Vista.
c2004 Bluestreak Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.