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What is a Search Engine and how does it work

Updated on July 1, 2017

What is a Search Engine?

Let us first see the meaning of the term Search Engine. A Search Engine is a web site designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. People search for information like web pages, images, files, software etc. on internet. Search Engines handle their operations algorithmically. An algorithm is a method for solving a problem using a finite sequence of instructions and they are used for calculation, data processing, and many other fields. Search Engines store information about web pages in their servers in an index database for use in subsequent queries. In this process, the contents of each page are analyzed and indexed in a particular manner. This index allows the information to be found as quickly as possible.

How Search Engine works?

A web page may contain numerous types of information such as text or words, static images and animated images, audio and video, interactive text, buttons, forms, comments, link files, scripts and many other things are added day by day. All these information or the contents as we call it, in each web page are analysed by the Search Engine operator before storing them in their servers. For example, words are extracted from the titles, headings, tags and keywords.

What happens when someone enters a query into a search engine? The Search Engine then examines its index and displays a list of best-matching web pages. Usually the list comes with a short summary of each page including the title and parts of the text.

A search engine will be considered useful or not by the user depending on the relevance of the results it gives in response to the querry of the user. Out of millions of web pages which include the word or combination of words given in the search, some may be more relevant than others and some may be more popular. Some web pages may be more authoritative on the subject than others. Search engines use various methods to rank the results according to their relevance or popularity or other factors and provide the best results to the user. These methods vary from one search engine to another and from time to time, one search engine may also change the methods with the changes in user paterns and technological developments.

Matt Cutts, a software engineer in the quality group at Google has explained how Google collects and ranks search results on Google Librarian Central. Currently, Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Therefore it is recommended to visit the site and read if you are interested in obtaining a detailed knowledge of how Google search engine works.

Major types of Search Engines

General search engines
Baido (Chinese)
Yandex (Russian)
Yahoo! News
Google News
AltaVista News
AlltheWeb News
Google Video
Yahoo! Video

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    • profile image

      dont speak ahhh china 

      6 years ago

      thanks mate this should do for my ASSignment

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You can, too, given lots of storage space and great inretnet connectivity.You need to create a spider program that goes surfing the web, collecting links and downloading entire websites. You need the spider to be smart, so it respects the robots.txt guidelines and doesn't clog up the sites it visits.You need to create a program that gets the relevant keywords from a given webpage (*any* webpage) so you can search for them.You need to design a database so you can optimize the way you store the addresses and relevant keywords, so the process of searching through them is not resource-expensive.You need either a big, ungodly fast computer or tons of small computers so processing everyone's queries doesn't take a century or so.You need lots of disk space just to store a list of all the webpages of the Internet. Multiply that by the number of keywords a webpage has.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      THX that's a great anrwes!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      我個人都係鍾意google啲product 而且google真係快好多(雖然唔知同我唔係在香港serach有無關係) 我好早之前一向都用yahoo啲product的 而出左gmail之後就開始轉到google 啦 但serach野就依然用yahoo(因為我比較鍾意Y!個介面 同埋Y!的serach results比較好.....這可能因為我不在香港 所以google serach會set咗用local site serach 以至d result唔係好啱我要求) 但大約今年左右吧 我已經接近放棄Y!了 因為實在慢到我不能忍受 我只不過要用佢個serach function 但佢卻花了超長時間just to load its other functions 而且我發現google的results也ok 所以非必要我都不用Y!了 ....不過我識得一d人 他們大都因為習慣我關係依然係會keep噃用Y!或MSN的 ----------的確好多時人都不想承擔自己選擇的結果/代價 其實我覺得有時d人問你意見abt a issue 之後如果佢因為你的意見作出選擇而得不到理想的結果 通常佢都會賴你 好似自己完全不用負責 也不會想想又沒人迫佢選 而我呢 要作某些決定時 也不會特別去問別人的意見 就是問了也是just for my reference 但基本上很多時我自己也早已有了決定(其實好多人都是這樣啦 例如行街買衫呀 朋友拿起一件問我好唔好看 說真的如果佢不是有d鍾意的話佢就唔會拿來問啦 這不是已make decision 嗎 她只是想要support而已 anyway 件衫係佢而不是我著 佢著得開心咪得囉!) 但唔知點解好多時我的決定都沒什麼人支持的(eg.我F.5畢業之後決定去新加坡讀F.6-7 好多人(..呀..朋友 同學 even老師)都反對啦 因為佢哋覺得好地地又唔係考唔到 為什麼要risk urself to adapt a new environment while working for A-Levels...) 但我到現在都無咩後悔我作的決定呀 anyway我覺得與其花時間後悔 不如將所謂"錯的"決定變成"對的" 反正對錯也只是一線之差

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      10 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I thought it was full hearted.

    • LasanthaW profile imageAUTHOR

      Lasantha Wijesekera 

      10 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Thanks for your comments.

    • Magickal profile image


      10 years ago from South Paris, Maine

      Great article and very informative.

    • P.Banerjee profile image

      Probir Banerjee 

      10 years ago from Kolkata, India

      Informative but halfhearted.


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