What are Search Engines?

Search Engines are algorithm based systems which mine/dig information based on certain pre-determined factors and suggest the most relevant pages to the users. Popular examples of search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.

 

Search engines have the main purpose to index thousands of millions of web pages. Once you look for a word or a phrase, the search engine scans automatically the entire database where it has the stored pages indexed and it returns to you as a result a list containing the most relevant results for that search. 

To round up Search engines perform three major functions:

  • They find (spider or crawl) web pages.
  • They inventory (index) page content.
  • They capture user queries (keyword phrases), search their index, and rankorder and display
    findings (results).  

The only criteria the number of pages found and their relevance depend on are the capabilities of the used search engine.

So, first there were some software robots, using the concept of spidering to index the web, following links from one site to the other and saving the text from all visited websites in a database.

what is a search engine

The Different Types of Search Engines

Although the term “search engine” is often used indiscriminately to describe crawler-based search engines, human-powered directories, and everything in between, they are not all the same. Each type of “search engine” gathers and ranks listings in radically different ways.

 

1. Crawler-Based

Crawler-based search engines such as Google and Yahoo, compile their listings automatically. They “crawl” or “spider” the web, and people search through their listings. These listings are what make up the search engine’s index or catalogue. You can think of the index as a massive electronic filing cabinet containing a copy of every web page the spider finds. Because spiders scour the web on a regular basis, any changes you make to a website, or links to or from your own website, may affect your search engine ranking.

It is also important to remember that it may take a while for a spidered page to be added to the index. Until that happens, it is not available to those searching with a search engine.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to making changes to a website so that it can attain higher search engine positions for specific key phrases in organic results.

Organic results refer to the regular search engine results displayed by crawler-based search engines; as opposed to sponsored results which are paid advertising.

 

2. Directories

Directories such as Open Directory depend on human editors to compile their listings. Webmasters submit an address, title, and a brief description of their site, and then editors review the submission. Unless you sign up for a paid inclusion program, it may take months for your website to be reviewed. Even then, there’s no guarantee that your website will be accepted.

After a website makes it into a directory however, it is generally very difficult to change its search engine ranking. So before you submit to a directory, spend some time working on your titles and descriptions or hire a professional to submit to directories for you.

 

3. Paid Inclusion

Most directories offer some form of paid inclusion. Paid inclusion guarantees your website gets reviewed and/or indexed promptly. Keep in mind that these search engines usually still allow people to submit for free; it just takes longer.

 

4. Pay Per Click (sponsored results)

PPC advertising is the name for the ads you see at the top or on the right of the organic results in most search engines. Services such as Yahoo SM, Google AdWords, and MSN AdCenter allow you to pay to show your ads on their search engine results page. How much you pay (your bid), along with the click-through rate of the ad (CTR) and the relevance of the landing page, determine the ranking of your PPC ads.

But the question arises: if search engines are free and they cam be used by everyone what keeps them financially alive? The answer to the question is very simple: advertising and traffic. The more visits they have, the bigger the traffic then the more money they can make providing promotion space.

Search engines are competing to develop the best formulas and algorithms to evaluate the web pages accordingly to the keywords provided.

If someone is looking for a top position in search engines, then they have to be sure that his site is projected in such a way that search engines would find it easily, being relevant for the keywords and phrases the user wants to find.

 

Based on the current Alexa Ranks the best and top search engines of 2012 are:

1. Google – Launched in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google.com is by far the most popular search engine globally. Originally named BackRub, Google’s network of sites roughly get 65% of all the United States queries and is considered by most people to be the world’s best. As of Oct. 3 2010, Alexa reports Google.com as the most visited website worldwide. Submit your website to Google.

 

Google powered: AOL (including CompuServe & Netscape), MySpace, Comcast Search and many other websites.

 

2. Yahoo! – Started in 1994 by David Filo and Jerry Yang, Yahoo.com was originally a directory of websites that later became its own crawler-based engine in 2002. As of late 2009, Yahoo! was the second biggest search engine on the web. However, in late August of 2010, Yahoo!’s results started using Bing’s index. As of Feb. 1 2012, Alexa reports Yahoo.com as the 4th most visited website globally. Submit your website to Yahoo!.

 

3. Bing – Launched in 2009 by Microsoft, Bing.com is their latest web-based search service. In late August, Bing officially started delivering Yahoo!’s results. Former Microsoft search engines include Microsoft Live and MSN. As of February 1 2012, Alexa reports Bing.com as the 26th most visited website worldwide. Submit your website to Bing.

 

Bing powered: Yahoo!, AltaVista, AlltheWeb, GoodSearch, Lycos, Go.com and many other websites delivering search results to their users.

 

4. Ask – Formally known as Ask Jeeves, Ask.com was founded in 1996 with the idea of allowing users to get answers to questions posed in everyday, natural language, as well as traditional keyword searching. Today Ask.com includes support for math, dictionary, and conversion questions. In November of 2010 Ask.com announced it would no longer be crawling, indexing and ranking its own pages, and will instead be outsourcing that to Google or Bing. Ask will continue to focus heavily on Q&A. There is no need to submit your site to Ask.

 

5. Srub The Web – Since 1996, ScrubTheWeb.com claims to rank all indexed pages individually, with all pages getting an equal chance of ranking high in their search results. Submit your website to Scrub The Web.

 

6. Blekko – Launched on November 1, 2010, blekko.com is quickly becoming known as the “slashtag” engine. blekko’s slashtags allow you to quickly and easily create custom searches. blekko also offers some of the best free optimzation and anlysis tools for webmasters. There is currently no website submit form for blekko. Blekko will crawl and index your website after finding it through sites that are linked to your. There is no need to submit your site to blekko.

 

7. Duck Duck Go – Founded in September of 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg, DuckDuckGo.com (DDG) prides itself on respecting user privacy. Duck Duck Go compiles its result by crawling many sources, including DuckDuckBot (their web crawler), crowd-sourced sites, Yahoo! “BOSS”, embed.ly, WolframAlpha, EntireWeb, Blekko and Bing. There is no need to submit your website to Duck Duck Go.

 

8. Entireweb – Originally launched in 2000, Entireweb.com launched their International search engine Entireweb 3.0 on April 7th, 2010 to compete with the current market leaders. It provides a number of advertising programs to help you get exposure, but you can also certainly Submit your website to Entireweb for free.

 

9. Entireweb powered: Exactseek, Slider and a the results for a few other web sites.

 

10. Teoma – Founded in 2000 by a professor and his colleagues at Rutgers University, Teoma.com was acquired by Ask Jeeves in 2001 and was used to run Ask.com for several years. In May of 2010, Teoma was relaunched as an independent search engine with results similar to those on Ask, but slightly different for testing purposes. You don’t need to submit your web site to Teoma.

 

11. Gigablast – Launched in 2000, Gigablast.com aims to index up to 200 billion pages with the least amount of hardware possible. It’s one of the leading clean-energy websites online with a whopping 90% of its equipment receiving power from wind energy. Submit your website to Gigiablast.

 

Other Popular International Search Engines:
– Baidu (Chinese, Japanese) – youdao.com
– Sogou (Chinese) – sogou.com
– Yadao (Chinese) – youdao.com
– Yandex (Russian) – yandex.ru, yandex.com

I will write another post on Search Engine Optimisation and SEO 101. Stay tuned to know more about search engines and SEO. If you have any queries about Search Engines , then let me know in the comments below.