The search engine is a type of computer program that is used to search for information on the internet. The search engine uses a keyword to try and find the most relevant information on the internet. Most of the main engines generate what is called a natural result of the search but sometimes the owner of the search engine can modify the search to suit companies that advertise on their engines.
The main web search engines are Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Excite, and Baidu among many others. Search engines operate by clawing over the internet and then indexing different content depending on relevance and keywords. When a user searches for a query it checks for indexed pages and returns the most relevant answer.
How search engines operate
Since search engines are met to search the web page they carry out two functions that ensure that they give the most relevant result.
They claw across the web from one webpage to another using the different links that direct it from one webpage to another and from one website to the next. After it claws a page, it indexes it by comparing it relevant according to a certain keyword and another webpage from another website across the internet.
When a user searches a certain keyword or keywords the engine checks its clawed and indexed pages and hence gives the result back. Now you may ask, how then it determines what comes on the first page and which comes last? It uses the popularity of the page either by the number of external links that link back to it or the number of users who are accessing the webpage.
The engine assumes that if the page is referenced by many other websites is relevant to that particular keyword. This is done by the use of a mathematical algorithm to calculate both the relevance and popularity of the webpage. From this, the pages are indexed according to keywords and hence the list of results when you search for information.
Examples of Internet search engines
It is the biggest search engine on the internet today and it is the most used engine across the world. The Google website is www.google.com but the company has customized some others to meet the specific country’s search needs and on their language. Examples include www.google.co.uk UK, www.google.co.tz Tanzania, www.google.com.mx Mexico, etc.
It is a Microsoft Incorporation company product.
4. Web crawler
6. My web search:
Other search engines include:
7. Baidu: it is based in China.
Features of the best web search engine
- Simple to use: web search engines should be simple to use for all users. For example, the Google search home page is mostly a search area where the user key-in their search word. This helps all levels of users to comfortably use the engine
- Information retrieval speed: search engines should be optimized for speed on all types of devices. Users don’t like waiting for long before they get answers.
- The engine should answer the user query: users visit search engines to get answers to their queries. The best engine should have an algorithm that tries as much as possible to answer the question.
- Auto suggestion: this feature helps the user by offering related searches that they can use to get the same answer for the query.
- Use voice search: to help those who cannot use the keyboard to search web engines should support voice search. This is where the use pronounces the word and the search engine can search.
- The number of web content it can access: web engines get their content from a database of web pages across many websites on the internet. The more relevant webpage has more options it can present to the user.
- Allow advanced search: Just as discussed above this is used to filter information to get specific data. A web search engine that offers this option gives users a better chance to get exactly what they are looking for.
- The algorithm used for ranking: search engine companies use different algorithms to decide which webpage will appear first and for which query. The best engines should consider the quality of the content that they present to the user. When a search engine returns good quality content per query user builds trust with that web engine.
How to use search engines
To search for any information on the internet using a search engine, first, navigate to the search engine website. You can use the many available methods to do so or use the simplest which is to type the address of the home page of our preferred engine on the address space.
When you are on the home page of the engine type the keyword or the name that you want to search for and click on the search button. After that, the result will be displayed depending on which website the engine decides is the most relevant per the word searched. The searched keyword can range from a few characters to a paragraph or more.
To reduce the number of search result that is displayed try being more specific. i.e. instead of searching for the keyword “computer” when you what to get information on a supercomputer you can be more specific by using “supercomputer” or “latest supercomputer” and so on.
After searching and the results are displayed you can now review the results by reading the preview that comes together with the results to determine if the results are worth it or not. If they are what you needed then click on the link on the webpage to view the full details of the page.
To further filter the results the user can use the following advanced methods:
Search engine advanced search methods
1. Using quotation marks ” “
They are used to specify the specific keyword that you need your search to return. i.e if one person searches for computer generation and another person searches for “computer” generation. In the latter case the user request results that give not any generation document but those that have the keyword computer on it. This means the results are more specific than the first one even if they use the same keywords.
2. Using a “define” keyword
If you want to get the definition of a word you use the keyword define and the engine will look at the online definition of the word and they will be your top results. E.g. define computer to search for the definition of a computer.
3. Using wildcard (*)
Advanced computer users know that wildcard is also used in databases to retrieve data that has specific information before the wildcard and then anything else after it. In the same case when using it in the search engine, you need to search a certain keyword but you don’t remember the whole text so you opt to use wildcard. E.g. comp* will search all keywords that have comp and any other character after that.
4. “Intitle” keyword
The keyword is used when you need to search the keyword that appears on the title of the web pages only. E.g. “intitle:” computer the result will give only the results that have the word computer on the title of the web page.
For more details about how to use the advanced search on Google click
What information can you search for?
The default search of most search engines is meant to search web pages. Users can decide they want to search for other details other than web pages. Other options offered (using Google case) include images, video, location using maps apps, etc. To search for an image for example click on the image and then search the results will be images following the keyword that you used.
Search engines have enabled internet users to enjoy the beauty of the internet and the variety that is offered by different internet content providers.
The users are spoilt for choice and if user doesn’t know what they are looking for then they can fall for bad or wrong information. Knowing how to get the right/correct information from the internet is a skill that needs to be learned by all.
Is Facebook a search engine?
No, Facebook is a social media platform. However, it has the capabilities to search the content within the platform but not the entire internet like search engines.
How many types of search engines are there?
There are many search engines that are optimized for different search functions. We have engines optimized for web pages, videos, images, news, etc.