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What Does it Mean to Search the Internet?

Contrary to popular belief, searching the Internet doesn't mean searching through every single web page that's available on the Internet. When we talk about searching the Internet, what we are actually searching is a database of web sites created by whichever search tool we are using.

These search tools, which include search engines, meta-search engines and subject directories, use different methods for adding web sites to their databases. Many send out computer programs called spiders to run through the web grabbing pages they find and indexing them. Others have people who evaluate web sites before deciding to add them to their databases.

Even the best of the search engines only cover about 30% of the Internet, so there are a lot of web pages out there that you won't find no matter which search tool you use. Also different search tools cover different pages. An excellent chart explaining the differences between search engines, meta-search engines and subject directories can be found at Infopeople Search Tools Chart.

The following is an explanation of search engines vs. metasearch engines vs. subject directories: how they differ and how they are best utilized.

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