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Searching the Web

Search Engines

Sometimes, you do not know the URL of the page you want - or even that it exists! Luckily for us, there are Search Engines out there that help us to locate pages that match a given search criteria. Like Web Browsers, each search engine has it's own objectives and works in a slightly different way.

Once again, which you use depends on the sort of thing you are looking for and your personal preferences. Each search engine will return a different set of results and is suited to different things and -like browsers- there is no need to limit yourself to one. For example, I find that Google is best for locating the sort of IT technical data that I generally search for, but not necessarily if I am looking for consumer goods.

Here is a brief subset of search engines, in no particular order:

How do Search Engines Work?

Search engines are continually sending out web crawlers or bots. These are small programs which roam from webserver to webserver (-anything connected to the internet, that doesn't specifically inhibit them) and compile a list of the available pages and any keywords on those pages. This list is transmitted back to the search engine, which adds it into it's cross-referenced index (-which is basically a large multi-table database).

When you call up a search engine, it will attempt to match the keywords you enter against those in it's database and return the best match for them. Be aware that this is a tad simplistic: people pay lots of cash to get their site near the top of your match list (-for example, those sponsored links) so the best match may not always be the one at the top of the list: check the descriptions listed and click the one that matches what you were after - even if it is down there on page five!

Price Comparison Sites

If you are searching for a product to buy, then there are many sites dedicated to searching across retailers to show you the lowest price: these are known as Price Comparison Sites. These are great when you know what you want and you're after the best price. Again, here are a few -in no particular order:

Note: NEVER buy from the web based solely on price, unless you have dealt with the retailer before and trust them. Always check out their rating (-based on feedback from past purchasers) or check for feedback on specialist trust website such as TrustPilot

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