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Web Search Engines and Web Indexes

by Nick Anis

We keep hearing about the millions of World Wide Web users the major search engines and indexes have but the fact is there are still millions of Web / Internet users that don't use or don't take full advantage of search engines and indexes.  That's tragic because there are over 700,000 unique websites on the World Wide Web and in order to find what you are looking for, (unless you are psychic), you will need to search for what you want by "category" or by "key word" or by both.

Some topics just don't lend themselves well to categories and even if they do indexes that are arranged by categories are far from complete because every single entry in a categorical index has to be done manually.  The largest and best-known categorical index is Yahoo.  Yahoo also happens to have the greatest market share of indexes and search engines. The second most popular search engine / index is AltaVista, which is a search engine not an index.

I have found myself using because it has the largest index of web pages in the world (about 700,000,000 plus pages) and because it's the fastest in the world (it returns results in a 1/4 of a second).  Otherwise I use Yahoo. 

Some users do better searching an index because they are able to figure out the category that best fits the information they are looking for, other do better with straight key word searches.  If you want to find a restaurant in Los Angeles for example, you can search for "restaurant, Diamond Bar, California" but chances are you will find it way to broad.  You will do much better if you add the keyword "Mexican" or something.  If you enclose key word phrases in caps they will be treated as a string, otherwise the search engine will give you any web page with those individual words on it.  You might try a directory to find a good restaurant but you will probably find it's incomplete as I frequently do.

A new search engine called  not only let's you search for what you are looking for; it gives you free entries in a contest every time you search.  Another let's you ask questions in conversational English, "What is a good Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles?"  While this may seem appealing to novice users, it's better to bite the bullet and simply type the phrases or words relating to the website(s) you are seeking. 

Before you get all confused and frustrated let me give you a secret.  Most indexes (that find things by category) also use a search engine as a back up.  So when you use Yahoo to find something, if it's not there in Yahoo's index, your request is transferred to a search engine they have partnered with to find what you are looking for.

I hope you find what you are looking for, as for me, I'm of to a GREAT Mexican restaurant in Diamond Bar, The Whole Enchlada -

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Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel and technology writer with over 24 books in print published by McGraw-Hill, Random House, Bantam, Ziff-Davis, Tab, and others. Nick's articles have appeared in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, West Coast Media, The Family Publications Group, The Weekly News, and Travel-Watch.  His beats include food, travel, snow and waters sports, entertainment, family recreation, consumer electronics, home improvement, and automotive.  He is responsible for the Restaurant Row Ethnic Dining Guide, co-published by the Long Beach Press Telegram.  Nick is an accomplished downhill skier, PADI certified SCUBA diver, and when he's not sitting on his butt goofing off, enjoys a variety of active recreation including tennis, riding motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, snow machines, horses, skeet and trap shooting he's also taken a stab at riding camels, donkeys, elephants, ostriches, lamas, dolphins, Reindeer, bulls, mechanical bulls, and buffalo.  Nick is a member (A Secretary/Treasurer) of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), a member of the North American Snow Sports Journalist Association (NASJA), Computer Press Association, The Writer's Guild, and listed in Books in Print, Media Map, and Press Access.  You can reach Nick at

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