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CIS 101: Web Searching

Introduction to web searching and evaluation, plus library databases.

Web Searching

web search engine is a tool to help you find information scattered throughout web pages, blogs, and other content on the world wide web.  

An important aspect of all search engines is the software behind them.  In general, there is something called a web crawler which literally goes around to web pages collecting information about them, as well as software that organizes that information into a database and controls how it is searched.


This includes a search algorithm, which is usually a highly guarded company secret.

Search Engines

Search engines are special web sites you can go to that help you search for information on all kinds of different topics.  Usually, they help you find information on the "free web."  But sometimes they will find information behind a paywall, and you'll be asked for a credit card number.  Please CHECK WITH THE LIBRARY--we may have the same information of something comparable for free!

There are dozens of web search engines.  For a much longer list than you can see here, try this:

Most Common Search Engines

Google Tips and Tricks

Boolean Searching:

  • Google uses an automatic Boolean AND between terms.  So the results should include all the words you enter, unless they are stop words (common words Google has flagged).
  • Put phrases in “double quotes” and you’ll only match all those words, in order.  Google also detects phrase matches even when the quotes are not used and usually ranks phrase matches higher.




  • No truncation is available, so if you want different forms of a word (library and libraries) you have to do two searches.
  • Within phrases, there is a trick that can be used for a wildcard word. Use an asterisk * within a phrase search to match any word in that position. Try “a * in time saves nine”, or “a * * * saves nine”.



Case Sensitivity:

  • Google has no case sensitive searching. Using either lower or upper case results in the same hits.
  • Use Google to search for pictures and graphics that might be useful.  From, click on the Images tab.

Google has an advanced search that allows you to do things such as:

°          Phrase search (same as “double quotes”)

°          Specify language

°          Specify date of last update

°          Search only within a certain domain (, for example)

°          Perform several “Topic Specific” searches (U.S. gov’t, for example)

°          AND MORE


Wedge Words

This is not an official Google feature, more of a technique.  Are there some words that you can think of that might help you ‘pry out’ more specific results, words that describe the type of  information you are looking for, as well as the subject you’re researching?  Think about it.


Some examples:

Comparison Chart        FAQ                 Research                       News                Encyclopedia

Database                       Review              Demographics              Lesson Plans     Tutorials


Try whales encyclopedia vs. just whales or DVD players comparison chart vs. just DVD players.

Don't Forget!

Finding information on the web is just half the battle!  

Don't forget to evaluate pages before you decide to use them in your research.  

Check out the resources on the Evaluating Information Tab, above.

Parkland College Library
2400 West Bradley Avenue
Champaign, IL 61821

Fax: 217/351-2581