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Popular Commercial Sites Benefit Most from Search Engines

A new study by the NEC Research Institute said that current search engines are accessing less than one quarter of the information on the Web.

The study, published in this week's Nature magazine, said that no search engine indexes more than 16 percent of the Web, and as more sites pop up, those numbers will decrease. Currently there are approximately 800 million Web pages, the report said.

The study also found that search engines are more likely to index sites with the most links. US commercial sites are indexed the most.

Dr. Steve Lawrence, research scientist at the NEC Research Institute, said that search engines need not only to index more sites but also to make adjustments to remove out-of-date sites, which currently can take up to months to find and remove.

"As the Web fast becomes a major communications medium, attention should be paid to the accessibility of information on the Web, in order to minimize unequal access to information, and maximize the benefits of the Web for society," he said.