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Chapter 49. Internet Basics > How Do I Find Web Sites?

How Do I Find Web Sites?

There are numerous search engines that you can use to find places on the Web. A search engine is itself a Web site that is designed as an interface to a database that searches for information on other Web sites. There are basically two types of search engines. Directories like Yahoo are a compendium of sites entered by people. Automated search engines like Google and AltaVista use software called a crawler or spider to search the entire Web and catalog the information. Then you can search that catalog on the site by typing the word or words you're interested in. The advantage of crawlers is also their disadvantage: They include everything. So these search engines will show you a list of every site that contains the word you're looking for. Often that includes many sites that aren't really related to your topic.

Many search engines have both a directory service and a crawler. But whatever search engine you use, be sure to check out its help system for rules, tips, and syntax. Most search engines use Boolean logic. which allows you to narrow or broaden your search with terms like AND, OR, NOT, or NEAR. If you type “united OR airlines” (most search engines don't care about capitalization) you will get sites that use either word. If you type “united AND airlines” you will only get sites that use both words. If you type “united NOT airlines” you'll only get sites that mention “united” but don't mention “airlines.” When in doubt, consider putting your words in quotes. With some search engines typing “united airlines” in quotes will give you only sites where the two words appear next to each other.


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