Search Engines

Search engines have become a staple in the world of information research on the World Wide Web. The following takes a look at the inner workings of search engines and some interesting facts about the crème de la crème of search engines.

Search Engines
Defining Search Engines
In a nutshell, search engines were designed as a tool that online users could employ in their quest (search) for information stored on the internet (World Wide Web). Requested information made by an online user through a search engine is then displayed in a list format. These are commonly known as hits. Displayed results contain information within web pages, images and various other file types.

How do Search Engines Operate?
Search engines operate algorithmically. This means that a finite sequence of instructions is programmed in order to calculate and process data, ultimately providing an “answer” to a requested piece of information. Search engines thus operate “digitally” (using automated software programmes) closely monitored with evolving and consistent human input.

Search engines operate in the following order:

  • Web crawling – web crawlers or spiders retrieve information that is stored on web pages.
  • Indexing – automated web browsers follow links and locate where information is stored. The content of a web page is then analysed in order to determine how they should be indexed. Once indexing criteria has been determined, the content data is stored in an index database. Different search engines store this information differently. For instance, Google stores all or only a portion of a source page (referred to as a cache) as well as web page information. Search engines able to build a comprehensive database with the sole purpose of providing information for the online user.
  • Searching – internet users enter a query into a search engine using keywords. Website owners can construct a specific list of keywords and phrases, creating a keyword density that will help to get indexed and ultimately “found” on a search engine’s database. This component of search engine marketing (SEM) or search engine optimisation (SEO) aids in providing the customer (online user) with what they wish to find when a search is conducted. A search engine then “examines” its index and produces a listing of web pages that best match the requested criteria. Short summaries are provided along with this displayed listing.

Search engines are deemed useful in direct proportion to the amount of relevant information it returns after a search has been conducted. Many millions of web pages can include specific words or phrases that are searched for. Not all will contain relevant content that is useful for the online user.

Many web pages will be more relevant than others, more authoritative in their competitive industry or simply more popular. Taking this into account, search engines rank web pages on their results pages. The perceived “best” results will always come out on top. Each search engine “decides” the “best” differently from another. Methods for determining who deserves a better ranking than another consistently change and evolve. This is directly in relation to the changes and needs of online users.

How Do Search Engines Make Money?

  1. Advertising revenue – advertisers are allowed to pay a search engine for the “service” of having their listing ranked higher on results pages.
  2. Search related advertisements – advertisements are run alongside regular search engine results. Money is made each and every time an online user clicks on any one of these advertisements.

Why Are Search Engines Necessary?
Pages on the World Wide Web increase substantially by the minute across the globe. More and more web pages get posted, which means more and more are competing to be indexed. With the list search engines produce on their results pages getting longer and longer daily, wouldn’t you want to work at listing your information at its top end? Online users too, are searching for the best of the best. The interest of the online user, which is also one of the consistant draw cards of returning to search engines in a quest for information, is convenience. Search engines help an online user to sift through the ever expanding mass of information, determining the very “best” from the rest.

Popular Search Engines
Which search engines are considered the crème de la crème of the dot.com world? There are many search engines available for online users to search to their heart’s content. Popularity with the online user is the key component in which search engines “rank tops” within the industry. The following search engines are the most favoured:

  1. Google – arguably the favourite of the world, indexing more than 10 billion web pages. This search engine is favoured for being thorough and fast. With its unique name, Google is considered the search engine technological leader. 
  2. Yahoo – Closely competitive with Google. 
  3. MSN
  4. Bing

Search Engine Facts & Stats

  • Google was launched in 1998, Yahoo! Search in 2004, MSN in 2005 and Bing in 2009.
  • Yahoo was originally one of Google’s investors. In March 2004, the partnership ended and resulted in Yahoo developing its very own search technology.
  • Google has been determined the most prominent source of traffic flow for shopping websites. In 2007, 15.6% of shopping traffic was achieved through the search engine.
  • At least 93% of all online user traffic is generated through the use of internet search engines.
  • At least 99% of all online users do not search beyond the top 30 results on a search engine results page.
  • An estimated 93% of all online consumers make use of search engines in order to locate specific websites.
  • Google has grown its audience 3 times the size of its most fierce competitor, Yahoo.
  • Google currently has a market share of 64.2%. Yahoo has a total of 20.4%. MSN and Bing share a total of 8.2% as recorded in July 2009.

In Conclusion
When an online user conducts a search on a search engine, they are effectively searching a comprehensively compiled database and not the World Wide Web itself. Search engines have become something an online user simply can’t do without. With so much to find on the web, search engines eliminate the hassle of sorting through relevant and useful information.

The future of search engines will continue to grow around its online customers. Future developments are bound to get bigger and better, as well as become even more competitive within the industry. With all of the world’s eyes on the globes fiercest competitors, the industry is set to reach productive new heights.