Section 5 Web Myths > URLs > Search Engines > Special Directories > Exercise > Precision Searching Strategies > Exercise

Search Engines

In addition to typing in a URL, users can find information on the Web by using a search engine. A search engine is a large collection (or a full-text database) of Web-based documents and other types of Internet files collected by a computer program. These programs, called spiders or crawlers (hence the name Web Crawlers), scan the Web for pages that are publicly accessible. As they scan, they store (log) the words on each page in their database, following the links on each page to access other Web pages. Other software programs allow users to search these Web sites. When users do a search, the search engine scans the database to find any pages which contain the search term(s) and brings them up in a results list. Search engines can have over a billion documents, and for this reason the results list is usually quite lengthy.

Google, which can be accessed at, is currently the search engine with the largest database and has the best record for keeping pages current.

© Reeves Library, Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary greyhound image © Morgan Conn, used with permission. Site designed by Ashley Garrett and Dorothy Glew.