A Web site (actually a program) that acts as a card catalog for the Internet. Search engines attempt to index and locate desired information by searching for the keywords a user specifies. The ability to find this information depends on computer indices of Web resources (maintained in a database) that can be queried for these keywords. These indices are either built from specific resource lists (as is the case with a search directory) or created by Web programs with strange-sounding names that seem to be inspired by insects: bots, spiders, crawlers, and worms.
From a surfer's point-of-view, search engines can be quite tiresome and not very efficient if you don't know how to use them correctly. On top of that, different engines are good for different kinds of searches, so it's a good idea to read the engine's advanced search section before you do a search. In many cases, using Boolean logic will help narrow down the results for you and better optimize your search results.
SEARCH TIP: The best way to get the most out of a search engine is to understand its features. Always check the site's help page or advanced search page when you arrive, to find out what features are available. Then use them-they really help. Be specific and enter all of the words you are looking for. Pick your search site smartly: If you are looking for a bio of a football figure, use a directory, but if you want to see every instance where his name appears, use an engine.