There is so much information on the Internet that finding what one is looking for is a daunting task. Search engines are a way of navigating the Web and presenting results that match a query. The major ones are Google, Bing and Yahoo, but there are others. This article will introduce some of the basic principles of how search engines work and some of the techniques that can help a person improve their results.
Search engines are software systems that find information specified by a textual Web search query. The information returned is a mix of Web pages, images, videos, infographics and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in databases or open directories. Search engines use an algorithm to analyze the query and find relevant information on the Internet.
The process begins with a query that a person enters into a search engine, such as Google. The query may be a word or phrase, or a set of keywords that are related to the subject matter of the search. The search engine then searches its index for information that matches the query, and returns the most relevant results to the user.
The information in the Web is largely unorganized and may come from many sources, including commercial information, national libraries, research reference collections and collections of personal material. Judging the relevance of hits in the index presents the greatest challenge to a search engine. The problem is compounded by the fact that a search term will usually produce hundreds or thousands of page addresses, some of which are reliable and others which are not. Search engines try to identify reliable pages by weighing, or ranking, them according to the number of other pages that refer to them. They also attempt to find out whether a page contains the query words by searching for them.
To accomplish these tasks, a search engine uses a program called a crawler, which systematically visits Web sites to gather information and indexes it. A search engine will then return the best results to a user’s search query, ranked according to the algorithm used by the particular engine.
The ranking algorithm is constantly evolving as the engine tries to balance the needs of its users with the need to provide the most accurate and comprehensive results. Nevertheless, some website owners use their own tactics to manipulate the algorithms in order to draw more attention from search engines and boost their rankings. This cat-and-mouse game has become known as search engine optimization (SEO). The goal is to attract visitors who will turn into customers or clients and stay loyal to the site. Some of the more common SEO techniques include keyword research, content creation and link building. The most effective search engine techniques are those that focus on attracting the right traffic to a website, rather than merely trying to get the attention of a wide variety of different search engines.