You have now learned how to get around on the Web and how to save and print the wonderful stuff you find there. But wait a minute! How can you find something wonderful enough to bother with?
That's like asking how to find a good book. There are lots of ways!
Ways to find interesting places on the Web
Searching the web
If you are looking for specific information, rather than just something interesting, you need special help. A search engine or a web directory can help you find what you need in the vast pile of web pages around the world.
The major web directories and search engines are now joining forces to create search sites that work both ways - directory categories and keyword searches at the same time. In such a site you will see a list of general categories as well a search text box.The home page for all of the major searching sites will be in English. To find a version of the site in another language, look for a link to International versions or for a link for the language or country of your choice.
A search engine is like an index in the back of a book. A search engine uses a computer program, called an intelligent agent, a spider, a crawler, a robot, or just a bot, which crawls through the Web looking at the pages.
The spider analyzes each page based on such things as:
You ask the search engine to look in its database for web pages that contain certain words or phrases. You get back a list of all such pages that the search engine knows about. You can easily get a list of tens or hundreds of thousands of web pages.
Each search engine uses a different method of evaluating a page. They differ in how often they update their data. Thus, you will get a different list from each search engine, even if you use the same words in your search request.
There are a number of powerful general purpose search sites. Plus, there are other search sites which specialize in particular areas of interest or in the documents on a particular network. New search engines are being developed all the time. They are getting better all the time - faster, more pages in the database, better at guessing which pages are actually what you are looking for!
A Web directory or subject guide is like the table of contents for a book. It sorts web pages into general categories, like Travel, Technology, Science, and Art, and then into more specific subcategories. For example, the category Travel might include such subcategories as Europe, Asia, air travel, cruises, travel agents, lodging, and maps. By digging down through several levels of categories, you can reduce the huge number of web pages related to Travel to a manageable pile of pages closely related to your question. Such directories are a good choice when you are looking for general material. A search engine is a better choice when you need specific information.
Some web directories list only pages that the human staff has reviewed and categorized. They may also give rankings like or based on how interesting or useful the page actually is.
Pages can also be categorized by "intelligent" software. However, people think more like you do than computer programs do. The pages categorized by people are more likely to be what you want. Sadly, no staff can keep up with the immense number of new pages that are posted to the Web every day. Search engines will have more pages in their databases than web directories do since they can find pages automatically.
A web directory can be searched itself. Some can even show you pages that are related to your keywords but which do not actually contain the words you picked for the search. For example, if you search using the words "elderly people", you might be shown pages about "retired people" also. Very smart!
A metasearch site runs your search on several search engines and web directories at the same time and presents you with a single list of results. Even if this shotgun approach does not produce the pages you want, it could show you which search services to use to dig deeper. Different services work best for different types of searches. Do not restrict yourself to just one.Major metasearch sites include Search.com, Dogpile, Mamma, and Go2Net.
For up-to-date information about of search engines, web directories, and metasearch sites, check out Search Engine Watch. The Major Search Engines page lists both search engines and web directories. Most major search sites provide both kinds of lists. MetaCrawlers page lists major metasearch sites.