The web can be useful for academic research in specific cases.
Ask your instructor whether or not they will allow you to use web sources in your research paper. Some instructors prefer that you focus on sources found within the library or its databases.
A Google search will often give you Wikipedia as your first hit. Wikipedia is similar to a general encyclopedia such as World Book and is a great resource for finding background information on a topic.
Many instructors prefer that you do not cite Wikipedia as a source, but you can still read Wikipedia entries to get a better understanding of your topic.
Furthermore, many Wikipedia entries contain references at the bottom of the page, which can sometimes lead you to better, more credible sources, which you can use in your References or Works Cited.
Almost anyone can publish their own web page, so it is important to critically evaluate the sources you find on the web. The CRAAP Test (linked below) can help.
Example: "Jim Davis"
Example: salsa recipe -tomatoes
Example: degree programs site:www.keuka.edu
Example: Try entering .org or .edu into the "site or domain" field.
Google's Tips & Tricks for Searching
Lifehacker's Top Ten Clever Google Search Tricks