Google has certainly become the dominant tool for searching the World Wide Web, but is not the only web search tool and there are vast amounts of information that it does NOT include.

Examine this cartoon. When you’re using a search engine such as Google, you are NOT searching the World Wide Web! You are searching Google’s database which has been created by the “robot program,” which is a complex set of instructions that allow Google to create and maintain its database of web pages.

As large as Google is, it contains only a very small fraction of what’s “out there” on the web. That’s why you cannot rely on Google for all your information needs–there’s way too much that Google simply doesn’t have! 


Characteristics of Google and Other Web Search Engines

  • Built by “robot” programs, not humans.
  • Emphasis on quantity of pages found.
  • Not selective, i.e., there is no Quality Control on what Google contains: very reliable information, utter crap, and everything in-between!
  • Results “arranged,” usually by “relevance”.
  • Keyword searching only, like a Keyword search in ALICE.
  • To modify results, use Boolean connectors (e.g., AND or OR) or other techniques (e.g., phrase searching)
  • Use the limiters on the sidebar of the search results pages
  • To do better searching use Advanced Search features.

Major advantage: can find specific information “buried” inside websites

Major disadvantage: can bring back too many results