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Chapter 9: Search
Public Searching
As previously mentioned, site designers must be especially careful not to fall into the familiar trap of exactly imitating search on the Web at large. The needs of Web-wide searching are very different than those of a single site, or even a group of controlled sites. Unfortunately, users often expect site-search facilities to act similarly to public search engines like Google or Lycos. Public search engines have to deal with the extremely difficult task of gathering and indexing the enormous and ever-changing Web, which has numbers of documents that are purposely filled with misleading information. Then, from all this information, the user is supposed to quickly and easily retrieve a useful result using a simple query. In summary—finding a needle in a haystack is a much easier task than searching the Web. Regardless of the difficulty, users do rely on public search engines a great deal and their searches do work more often than not. Designers should consider a user's experience with Webwide search engines, since users will generally understand the functionality of these engines and apply that knowledge when they use a local search engine. Further, we need to understand Web-wide searching to see how it fits into the task of driving users to our Web site. The following sections will explore the components of Web searching and explore some of the problems encountered.

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