Search engines are used to find pages on the World Wide Web that relate to a particular subject area. There are thousands of pages of web sites appearing every day, and the rate of growth is getting faster. The search engines are becoming more comprehensive and there are also more search engines appearing all the time, some specialist and others general.. But despite this, the coverage of the search engines is getting weaker. In order to locate a particular site, several searches may be required using several different search engines.
The original search engines were predominantly USA based, but the larger ones now have regional content, with the ability to select these pages directly. Most search engines are now also portal sites, which enable users to search for and order a variety of goods.
Beware that there are directories and search engines. Weblocate.net provides a directory of web sites at no cost to the sites listed, but some directories are subscription only. Search Engines are mostly free, but commercial sites can be asked to pay for a more prominent position in results.
It pays to be as precise as possible when searching for a site. Try to use keywords that are as specific as possible to the target site. Where this is not possible, keywords can be linked together to form a combined keyword. For example, "British Airways" will return a long list of sites that contain British or Airways. The syntax will vary, but "+British +Airways" will return a shorter list of sites that contain both keywords.
Parental control may be a sensitive issue. Search engines can easily return a some dubious web pages from an apparently innocuous search. To avoid any shock, distress, or over excitement, some search engines allow parental controls to restrict the sites that can be listed.
The big name search engines spend huge amounts of money on advertising, so Yahoo, Google, Excite, Alta Vista, and Lycos are likely to be the first choice search engines, but they may not be the best for your subject area. You may wish to explore some of the lesser known search engines such as Webcrawler.
Why not spend some time looking at some alternative search engines? If regional content is important to you, then use of a smaller local search engine may limit the number of sites that you have to sift through to find what you are looking for. WebLocate has sections for many countries. Some of the sites are regional content for the large search engines, but others search engines that specialise in a few countries.
The comprehensive search engines allow searches in different languages as well as for different countries. Web pages can be marked as being in particular language, so when they are searched the area of interest can be limited by specifying a language.
Search engines and the way that they work are a fascinating subject area. The following links have background engines on search engines.
Meta Tags Search Engine Guide Search Engines
Search Engine Watch Zdnet Search Engines
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