What Is A Search Engine?
A Search engine is a tool that allows users to search for information on the web. Popular search engines are Yahoo!, Google, and Bing Search. Search engines make use of automated software applications commonly known as robots, or spiders that crawl along the Web, tracking links from page to page, website to website. The information collected by the robots is used to generate the Web's searchable index. Take for examples, a person trying to learn more by a certain product in the market. She looks into Google or Yahoo and types a word directly related to the product she is looking for. The search engines then spits out several links pertaining to the searched word.
The Internet is huge, with billions of different pages that are connected to each other. In fact, the Internet is a lot like a giant library but the books are different web pages scattered everywhere. Take a second to visualize the largest library that you can. The Internet is more massive than what you just pictured! Imagine how difficult it would be to find what you were looking for in such a huge library if you didn't have a way to search for what you are looking for.
Libraries have indexes that help you to find what you are seeking, and the Internet does as well. These are called search engines and they help to make your Internet search easier and quicker. Search engines are specially designed websites that have spent time going through billions of different pages across the Internet to create a searchable index. The work that search engines do make it so that you can find popular pages or websites in less than a second instead of making you do all the work. While each search engine will work slightly differently, each one will perform three simple tasks.
- They will search through the Internet, or through specific areas of the Internet, based on popular and important words.
- They create an index of all the words that they find during their search, and log where they found them. This allows users to return to where the search engine originally found the term.
- They create a webpage where users are able to search for specific words, or certain word combinations, found in that index.
How Does A Search Engine Work?
Search engines have two main functions, crawling and indexing as well as giving users answers to questions. Think of World Wide Web as a network of stops in a busy city subway system. Every stop is a distinct document with billions of pages, files, images and videos. The search engines must "crawl" the entire city and locate all the stops. To do this, so they make use of the best path available: the links. These links allow the "crawlers" to reach the many billions of documents in milliseconds and returns results that are relevant.
How Search Engines Create Indexes
Before a search engine can tell you where the information you are seeking is stored, it has to find it. To do this, search engines send out special robots called spiders. Spiders will scurry through the Internet to create the lists of words that are found on the Internet. This process is called Web crawling.
Search engine spiders will usually start digging through different pages based on what is popular. The spider will look at a highly visited web page, index all the words, and then follow all the links on that page. This is how the search engine robots travel across the Internet, visiting the more widely used places on the Internet. They collect huge amounts of data in a short amount of time and then hurry back with it to create the index.
The creation of the index is slightly complicated, because the search engine has to store it in a way that is useful to those who need it. Search engines categorize their results by rank so that you receive the most useful results when you search for something. Rankings are decided by many different factors, such as how often the word you searched appears, how long the site has been on the Internet, and how relevant any links to other pages are. This way, when you are shown the results of your search, you have the greatest chance of finding the information you want in the first page of search results.
While the process may be a little confusing, it removes the need for us to do all that digging to find a simple answer. Search engines make it easy for us to find what we want easily and quickly.