There is no central card catalog to the billions of individual documents on the World Wide Web (over 1 billion by one estimate--and increasing
daily). So how can you even begin to find information on a topic of interest or importance to you? You may feel like the person who says "How
can I look up a word in the dictionary when I don't know how to spell it?"
AltaVista reports somewhere around 55 million searches are performed on it every day; Google reports another 12 million. The vast majority
are in the form of a search query , which is one or more keywords you instruct a search engine to use to find exactly the information
you're looking for. A search query may also contain operators, words or symbols that narrow or expand a search.
For example, if you were searching for a copy of the required 10-K filing for the JonesCorp company, you could type JonesCorp 10-K
into the search query input area in the search site's Main page and submit it. In some search engines and directories, you click a Submit
button, in others a Go or a Fetch button.
When you write your search query, no matter how simple, you're telling the search engine that it must find all of the documents in its
database that meet your criteria.
You may find that you have more success searching for a particular type of information using a particular search engine. This involves its
database, which is the topic of the next lesson.
Click the Exercise link below to repeat the last search with two search engines and to compare the results with those of the directories.
Search Queries - Exercise