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xRoss Miles

Concise Guide Series

Searching the Internet
January 2000


For many, the search engine is the main portal to the rest of the 'WWW' (World Wide Web). If you do not know a 'URL' (Uniform Resource Locator), otherwise known as a web address, you will need to use a search engine to find one. A search engine searches for web sites that contain the word(s) you searched for. There are many search engines. Some are set up to search for all topics. Some, however, are more specific. Some of the better known ones are listed below:

NAME xxxxxxx ADDRESS
Yahoo! xxxx www.yahoo.com
Altavista xxx www.altavista.com
HotBot xxxx www.hotbot.com
Infoseek xxx www.infoseek.com


These are just some of the main examples. There are many more, as you find out once you have been on the web for a while. You might have found a favourite site and decided to use it as the page you see when you first connect to the Internet. This is easily done. First start your copy of Internet Explorer (in my case 4) and click on the button marked 'Stop' with a big white cross in a grey circle.


When you click on Internet Options you should see a window like the one below. If you are using Internet Explorer 5 it will still be called Internet Options but you will find it in the Tools menu instead of the View menu.


This is obviously just a small part of the whole window, but it contains the part we are interested in. In the box that is highlighted in the diagram above type the address of the site you wish to load automatically (e.g. http://www.yahoo.com) and then, at the bottom of the screen, press Apply and then OK.

Now we will go onto search specifics. How do you get the results you want? Simple! Be specific. In this example, we will use Yahoo!.


When Yahoo! loads, you will notice the box above. There you type in what you want to search for, in this case this site, and you then press the button marked 'Search'. After a short while, Yahoo! will bring up a list of sites that contain the words you searched for.


As you can see, again this is only a small part of the overall window. Where it says Web Pages it shows how many results; it has found 27,500. The ones displayed are only the first twenty. At the bottom of the screen is a link to go to the next twenty. The underlined blue words are links to the sites it has found. The black text is a short description of what the site is about. In this case, Romulus 2 showed as the first entry but in those cases where a site is less well known, it could take all day to search through all the results so you might have to be a bit more specific.


We have returned and entered a few more words that you might expect to be set as the keywords for this site. Again press Search and check the results. Another part of Yahoo! that needs to be addressed is the difference between a Category, Web site and Web page. Yahoo! has many categories about different subjects, like computers, shopping, etc. Web sites are places on the web that contain ONLY information about what you have searched for, like this site. A web page, however, is just a single page of information regarding the subject you have searched for.


When we searched for Romulus 2 earlier, it didn't find any Categories or Web Sites. The selected page is all about Web Pages. The blue link under Related News shows that there is related news about Romulus 2. When Yahoo! returns its information, don't be surprised if at the top it says '1-5 of 5'; check to make sure that you have viewed Web Sites and Web Pages.

But nothing is perfect and occasionally, despite your best efforts, you won't find what you are looking for. It may be grasping at straws but occasionally you can find what you are looking for by just typing in an address in one of the following formats.

www.***********.co.uk
www.***********.com
www.***********.gov.uk
www.***********.gov
www.***********.net

.co.uk is used for companies in the UK.
.com is similar, only it can based anywhere in the world.
.gov.uk is used for government sites in the UK such as MI5.
.gov is used for government sites elsewhere, like the NSA.
.net is used mainly for web-based organisations, such as Internet Service Providers.

For example, if you wanted to find the BBC, the most likely choices would be: 'www.bbc.co.uk', 'www.bbc.com' or 'www.bbc.net'. After testing all three, you will notice that it is the 'co.uk' extension.

Perhaps the easiest way to find a site on the web is to simply ask someone. If all your attempts have been unsuccessful, why not ask someone who might be able to help? For example, you could consult one of our forums or, for that matter, you could email a friend.

A general search engine such as Yahoo! may not be the ideal choice when looking for more obscure sites. For example, ‘Golfers' Monthly 18-hole Guide’ is more likely to be found on a search engine specialising in golf than on one of the larger engines.

Another searching trick is to find a links page. Again, just say you wanted to find ‘Golfers Monthly 18-hole Guide’, try searching for ‘Golf links'. You will find many of these pages and they contain a large number of hyperlinks (normally underlined) that will take you to other places. If you can’t find the exact site you are looking for you are bound to find something similar.

That’s about it. Good luck in your searching.


Ross Miles

   

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