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There are hundreds of millions of websites on the Internet, which can make it very difficult to find information on a specific topic. Fortunately, you don’t have to wade through all of those sites to find what you’re looking for. A search engine can do it for you in a matter of seconds.
How do they do it? Let’s take a look at how search engines work.
Now that you know how search engines work, it’s time to learn how to make them work for you. Our guide to Searching the Web can help you go from a beginning web surfer to an expert searcher.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I can’t find what I’m looking for?
Sometimes finding very specific information with a search engine can be difficult because there are so many results. Fortunately, there a plenty of ways you can narrow down your results. Our Advanced Web Searching guide offers several strategies for improving your search results. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s possible you need to use something other than a search engine to find it. It’s time to learn about Doing Research Online.
Can I trust the information I find on the Internet?
Anyone can launch a website and publish whatever information they like. While this is wonderful for free speech, it also means there is a lot of questionable information available on the World Wide Web. Some websites are more reliable than others. For instance, the Mayo Clinic website provides better medical advice than your neighbor’s blog. It can be tough to figure out which information is reliable, but our guide to Evaluating Online Information can help.
Is everything on the Internet searchable?
No. In fact, the majority of information available online cannot be found by search engines. Some of this information is contained within databases, which search engines can’t index; other sites require a login to view, and still other pages change too often for search engines to reliably track them. Searching for this type of information requires special tools, which you can learn about in our articles on Minding the Deep Web and Searching Databases.
Can I browse the web without using a search engine?
As long as you know a website’s address, you don’t need a search engine. You can just type it into your browser. From there, you can follow links to other webpages (that’s how search engine spiders get around!). Or you can start with a Web directory, which is essentially an index websites, usually organized by theme. Navigating this way can be slower than using a search engine, but it can also be a useful way to find information if you are unsure of exactly what you are looking for.