by Dinesh Thakur

As all search engines are different they all operate in slightly different ways. The good news is that the same search techniques can be applied to them all, but, as might be expected, each one is a variation around the same theme. To make it even worse not all search engines actually search the Internet, some are what is known as web directories. Then, just to confuse the picture even more some engines do keyword searches while others are concept based.

Put that all together and it becomes obvious why some people stop using the Internet - and those that still do help to earn vast profits for the ISPs and telecoms companies. With tens of millions of websites and very little idea of how to search through them it is usually at this point that people start to give up; when a simple search produces several hundred thousand matches none of which appear relevant. And yet this could so easily be changed. All it takes is a basic understanding of the terms used and the application of a few simple techniques. First, what do the terms mean.

Web Directories

In concept these are identical to any other directory, or even the Yellow Pages. Websites are grouped into categories and those categories are listed alphabetically to make searching the Internet a simple matter of looking up the right category. With web directories the problem knows what category to look under.

Search Engines

These actually do search every website on the Internet using what are known as software agents which can also have a variety of other names

Sometimes they can be called Web Robots or just Robots; they can also be called Bots, Web Crawlers because they crawl all over the web or, finally, they can be called after the creature that traditionally crawls over webs: Spiders. Why they should have so many names is beyond even the experts, but they do at least all work in the same way.

Every website is searched and the content found there indexed according to the title of that website, any words found between the <META> tags and also any other words found in the text. For good measure the links pointing to a particular website can also be analyzed as the words surrounding that link can help to describe the website the link points to.

All search engines work slightly differently; some give a higher preference to words found within the text of a website, others concentrate on the words within the <META> tags. In the end, though, they all produce a list of indexed words. It is these indexed words that are then searched to find a match for any word entered into the search engine by anyone using the service. For good measure these same web robots continually re-visit each website both to confirm it still exists and to make a note of any alterations which could affect how it was indexed. Finally, there are some search engines that take any search term entered into them and pass it on to a variety of other search engines. The results from all these search engines are then displayed.

There are, then, many different ways in which a search engine can operate. And far too many search engines to list. That being the case the best advice is to find a few that seem to match any personal preferences and use them. It is always a good idea to use more than one search engine when looking for information as their different ways of working means they will always produce a slightly different list of websites. It is also easy to find search engines on the Internet. Just do a search using the term "search engine".