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Search Engines

The Web is huge. There are so many things out there that the next problem is how to find what you want if you don't know the URL. The problem is at least partially solved with search engines. The search engine is a software program used to search for the Web pages, their servers, and associated databases and links. These Internet search engines use a tool known commonly as a spider, although other similar tools are known as harvesters, crawlers, etc. These are automated software robots designed to creep along the Web in search of Web sites to index. (Some search engines use other tools, as well.) The program goes through all the HTML code to gather information that the search engine uses in its algorithm. They often do not go very deep into a Web site. Web pages can block the spiders in a variety of ways from sensitive information. However, if a Web site wants to get noticed by the search engines, its developers will try to make things as easy as possible for the program, to the point of voluntarily submitting its Web sites to the search engine.

Although there are dynamic Web page URLs (meaning they change, or at least part of it does), most are static (stay the same). These can be dynamic by use of a programming error or dynamic because someone named the URL extension without adding a link elsewhere on the Web site.

Search engine robot developers worry about dynamic URLs because they can confuse the robot and cause it to get lost in “spider traps” and “black holes” (sites with no useful information on them).

For the most part, dynamic URLs are not searched or indexed, nor do they come up on search engine keyword searches. (Information contained in these types of URLs are referred to as the “invisible Web.”) If a page isn't linked to the main page, neither the spider nor you will find it easily. What this means to you is that if your friends just added a page of photos onto their web page but they wanted only you to view them, there would be no way to access that page without knowing the exact URL. So if it was Bob's Web site and he added /picturesforSally.htm after his URL and you forgot whether it was pixforSally or photos or photographs, any other variation, there wouldn't be a link, nor could a search engine find it.



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