How can you search the World Wide Web effectively without getting overwhelmed by the billions of pages available? You begin your search by entering some sort of search criteria into an editable field on your screen and then pressing the search button. Searching the Internet for some particular information can be both a frustrating experience and a rewarding one. It's best to start with a particular search engine or directory, looking for what you need. Remember that there is a considerable overlap between the contents of one engine and another, so you will find similar references among them.

Let's say we are looking for information on a 1977 Jeep CJ-5, perhaps a supplier of parts for that automobile. Going to a search engine like Yahoo, you can search their database, but the real question becomes what keyword do you use? Yahoo allows only one keyword, or a phrase in their advanced search options. Start by looking for "CJ-5", but in all likelihood, you won't find it. It's way too specific. You need to exercise care in picking search terms. For example, looking for items that weigh a "ton" will also return references to "Washington", "Alexander Hamilton" etc, because they include the letters t-o-n in them.

Having not found anything listed under CJ-5, or perhaps finding listings, but of the wrong type, widen your search by looking for "Jeep". Here you may find several dealers of Jeeps, perhaps even the parts supplier you need. You may also find someone's Homepage where they write about owning a jeep. If you still can not find the needed information you can broaden your search even further, in this case you can widen your search by looking for "Automotive".

Searching for simple things like "Jeep" or "Washington" is very easy for most people. A problem arises however when you need to search for something specific, but requires more than one word. Most Search Engines and Directories provide for advanced searching, but their methods vary from system to system. Primarily two types of advanced searches are supported, phrase searches and Boolean Searches. Each of these types of searches have their strengths and weaknesses.

Perhaps the easiest of the advanced techniques is phrase searching which allows you to search on multiple words for one topic. For example, searching on information concerning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., You might be inclined to search on Martin Luther King. Looking over your results in a typical Search Engine, you would be surprised to discover that searching on Martin Luther King returned pages for Martin Luther King, BB King, Kings in general, the Christian reformation or Martin Landau. In other words, the Search Engine took your three words; Martin, Luther, and King and assumed you were looking for web pages with references to any of these words in them.

If you want a Search Engine to do a phrase search you need to inform the search engine that the words you are looking for need to by grouped together. So don't search for Martin Luther King, instead search for "Martin Luther King". By enclosing the keywords within quotes you are basically informing the search engine that all three words have to be present on the page and in close proximity to one another. Some Search Engines will allow phrase searching, others will not. When in doubt, look on the main page of the search engine for either a help file link or for their FAQ.

Named after an English mathematician, Boolean searching refers to a form of logic applied to the search. Basically a Boolean search requires some additional words to be used, for example searching on the words "Cancer" and "treatment". This type of search allows you to exclude websites which may be about the constellation Cancer or the horoscope sign.

Boolean Searches require using certain keywords, while these keywords may vary from search engine to search engine, the concepts are the same.

AND - Search on Term1 AND Term2

An example of AND searching could be: Washington and Lincoln - Look for webpages which contain both words "Washington" and "Lincoln".

OR - Search on Term1 OR Term2

An example of OR searching could be: Washington or Lincoln - Look for webpages which contain either the word "Washington" OR the word "Lincoln", or both.

NOT - Search on Term1 but NOT Term2

An example of NOT searching could be: Washington not Lincoln - Look for webpages which contain the word "Washington" and do not contain the word "Lincoln".

Boolean searching, given these simple, yet powerful, capabilities allows someone to quickly narrow their searches so that the results of a search may quickly pinpoint the information they need. The more terms you are able to add to the search specification, the finer the results you will have in the search engines.

What is the difference between search engines?