Internet Literacy – Part 9
This is part 9 of my series, Internet Literacy. In this part of the series, I will talk about what is known as search engines. This part of the series is a continuation of the previous part of the series, to make you Internet literate.
Reason for the Existence of Search Engines
Now, many sites out there are offering things you need. How would you know which site is offering what you want. Now, a friend or a colleague or somebody may give you the URL of the site (home page). If nobody can give you the URL of the site having something you are looking for, that is where the search engine comes in. It is so because there are many things you want to get from the Internet; there are very few people who will be able to offer URLs for your many specific needs; also people find it difficult to remember URLs.
Nature of Sites
In some sites everybody can see the home page, but to see the other pages and use the site (to share ideas or buy something) you have to be a member of the organization of the site. In some cases anybody in any part of the world can be a member; in other cases membership is limited to a geographical region and/or to people with a particular activity (e.g. particular profession). It is possible to have a website that is only for a particular set of people and their members are not interested in any outsider having anything to do with the site, even the home page. However I do not know of any such site. May be the secret service may have such a site. In theory, the pages of many websites can be seen by everybody in any part of the world. In practice, it is not everything in the Internet that can be seen by everybody.
The Internet today is like a world wide market and a source of any kind of information. A substantial amount of information today in the Internet is free; meaning you do not have to pay for the information (including tutorials). In some cases, you may have to be a member of the site’s organization before you access the information freely. Free, here means you do not have to pay to get the information. However, I have to warn you here: some of the free information is not valid; other free information is spams or scams. At the limit, some of the paid information has errors.
What is a Search Engine?
A search engine is a website, which enables you to find anything you are looking for that exists in the Internet that you have the right to access. The thing you are looking for must have been placed in the Internet by someone.
The main page you use from a search engine website is the home page. Examples of search engines are: www.google.com , www.yahoo.com , www.bing.com . The home page for each search engine has a long horizontal input text field. Next to this field is a button with the label, “Search” or something similar. The button and the field constitute a small Form. Into the field, you type a word, phrase, or sentence of what you are looking for; then you click the Search Button.
After that a new page will appear with listings. Each listing (item) consists of a header, which should be the title of a web page somewhere in the Internet and a description of the page. The description is displayed just below the header.
The new page that appears would be full of such listings. This page is the search engine result page. Now, a search engine displays information (listings) of web pages of other sites and not information about the sites. For information about a site, the search engine web page result might display a listing of the home page of the site. So, a search engine searches pages, it does not search sites.
The header of each listing is a link that when clicked, will open the corresponding page of the site in the browser. At that point, a page searched for, is fully seen.
After clicking the Search Button in the home page of the search engine (site), the page that results is just the first result page. There are many more. If you look below in the first result page you will see a Next Button. Clicking this button takes you to the next result page. The next result page also has a next button that will take you to a further next result page.
Keywords are important words or phrases of a web page. If a web page is selling or talking about shoes, for example. The keywords for this page are shoe, size, shoe size, manufacturer, men, age. Keywords for a web page are not usually more than 10.
When you type a phrase or sentence into the input text field of a search engine and click Search, you also type the keywords unconsciously in the phrase or sentence. For most pages, the website designer is not expecting you to have more than 5 keywords in the phrase or sentence that you type. You do not really need to learn what phrase or sentence you have to type. As you type the phrase or sentence the keywords are inherent. However, sometimes the search engine may ask you to narrow your search. This means you have to type a longer phase or longer sentence or more than one phase or more than one sentence, having more keywords.
The fewer the keywords typed, the greater the number of pages out there that have the keywords. The greater the number of keywords, the fewer the number of pages out there that have them. With experience, you will be able to type only keywords without typing full phrases or sentences; however that skill is not necessary. The search engines do not really expect you to have such skills.
How does a Search Engine earn Money
Using a search engine is free. So how does a search engine pay their workers and make profit. If a company really wants to be sure that their product or service will be seen by people using a search engine, they have to pay some money to the search engine company. When an Internet user is looking for the kind of product or service, the listing for the page having the product or service of the company will appear in a conspicuous area of the search engine result page. It might appear at the top of the result page, where the Internet user will look at first or at the right top of the page, where the user is likely to look at. That is the official way in which a search engine makes her money. The companies for many of the listings you see down in the result page have not paid any money to the search engine company; that is why their listings are not really conspicuous.
A search engine can also make her money by sending the advertisement listings to some social networks. I talk about social networks in the next part of the series.
Competition Between Sites
Majority of the websites today, are owned by people in the developed countries. However, today, quite a good number is owned by people in the Eastern Block: New Europe, Japan, Asia, India. Quite a good number is also owned by people in Brazil and the emerging economic countries. Africa and many of the countries in South America and Latin America are still to make a reasonable impact. Countries like Libya and other Arab countries with little political freedom are still to make a reasonable impact.
The competition in the Internet from websites today is already very high. Competition among sites by owners of the developed countries is very high. As sites from the emerging economics are hosted, they join in the competition. They do not really come up with new services. They may come up with alternative services but not really new services. It is true that people in the developing countries may have products that are not in the developed countries, but as they begin to own websites, they compete among themselves. If you have a company in the developing country, the only way you may not compete with other websites today, is if you sell only to your country. However, as time goes on, the competition will increase in your country.
Everything being equal, when you type a phrase in a search engine today, and click Search, the numbers of result pages that come up are more than 20. What many users do is that they look at the first 3 result pages. If they do not see what they are looking for they try another search engine. On the other hand, staying at the same search engine and looking further may show you what you are looking for. The choice is yours.
Yes, today, you have to learn how to drive, how to read and write, be computer literate and be Internet literate. We stop here and continue in the next part of the series.
Window for the Ordinary Internet User
The Web Page for the
Ordinary Internet User
Web Page Form for
when ordering a Website
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