Let's cover some basic realities first that can lead to frustration. In your move from surfing to searching on the Net, be advised that your experience is partly contingent upon your environment. If you are used to surfing at T1 speeds at work, understand that load times and search processes will be slower when accessed at home over a modem. Your modem and processor speed is not all that can impede a quick search however. The way you set up your browser, the network load and time of day , and choice of search engine also have an effect on search success.
Search Engine Basics
Search engines access their databases by descriptor items (keywords). Directories have categorized their information and search by subject matter. Multiengines search databases by employing several search engines at once and combining hits into a single listing or by individual search engine.
Engines work by sending out software robots, or bots, out onto the web to compile info about websites into their search engine database. Bots record info differently based on how the engine works.
Sites for Searching on Searching
Consumer's Guide to Search Engines- A nice primer on Boolean search operators and fooling engines is included.
Searching The Net - Provides current reviews and rankings of many search tools.
Search Engine Watch- Explains how search engines work.
Anthony's Search Engine Comparisons- Lots o' Links to search engine related sites.