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What is a Search Engine?

What is a Search Engine? A search engine is simply a software. It is a software that is
typically accessed on the internet and it searches a database of information according to a person's query. The search engine will then provide a list of results that will best match what the user is trying to find. The internet has a number of search engines available. Each has its own abilities and features.

The first search engine to be developed is considered to be Archie and it was used to search for FTP files. The first text-based search engine is considered to be Veronica. These search engines are however no longer relevant. The most popular and well known search engine today is Google. Other search engines are AOL, Ask.com, Baidu, Bing and Yahoo.

Accessing a search engine Users access search engines through a browser on their computer, smartphone, tablet or any other device. A number of the new browsers use an omnibox. This is a text box at the top of the browser which shows the address and it is where you can also search on the internet. You can also access a search engine by visiting one of the major search engines home pages to perform a search.

The working of a search engine

Large search engines contain millions and even billions of pages. As a result, many search engines will not only search the pages but also display the results depending on their importance. Various algorithms are used to determine this importance.

A spider or crawler is the source of all search engine data. It automatically visits pages and indexes their content. When a page has been crawled, the data contained in the page is processed and indexed. This will often follow these steps:

Strip out stop words: strip words are commonly used words that are excluded from searches to help index and parse web page faster e.g. a, and etc.

Record the remaining words in the page as well as the frequency in which they occur

Record the links to other pages

Record the information about any images. This also includes audio and embedded media on the page

The data is collected from the above process is used to rank the page. It is also the primary method a search engine uses to determine if a page should be shown and in what order it should be shown.

Once the data is processed, it is broken up into one or several other files. It is then moved to different computers or loaded into memory where it is accessible when a search is performed.

Search engines and results

All search engines don't necessarily give the same results. Since search engines use proprietary algorithms to index and correlate data, every search engine has its own approach in finding what you are trying to find. The results may be based on where you are located, what else you have searched for and what results were preferred by other users searching for the same thing. Search engines will weigh these factors uniquely to offer different results.

So there is no one search engine that can be said to be the best. It is all about a user's preference.


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