What is a Search Engine?

explanation of a search engine

A search engine is a web-based tool that helps users to locate information on the World Wide Web. Some of the popular types of search engines in the world include Google, Yahoo, MSN Search. Search engines use automated software applications that travel along with the Web, following links from one page to another and from one site to another. The information collected by the spiders is used for creating a searchable index of the web.

In simple language, search engines are answer machines. They exist to find, understand, and arrange the online content to provide the most relevant results against the queries audiences are asking. To show up in search engine results, first, your content must be visible to search engines. It is the most significant piece of the SEO world. If your website cannot be found, there is no way you will be shown in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

How does Search Engine work?

Search engines have three main functions. These are:

Crawling- Scour the internet for content, seeing over the code or content for every URL they find.

Indexing- Store and categorize the content found during the crawling procedure. When a page is indexed, it displays relevant queries.

Rank- Provide content that will answer a searcher’s query in the best way, which means that results are shown starting from most relevant to last relevant.

search engine

What is web search engine crawling?

Search engine crawling is the discovery procedure in which search engines send a team of robots, also known as spiders or crawlers to find any updated and new content. Content can differ- it can be a webpage, a video, an image, or a PDF- but irrespective of the format, content is found by the links.

Googlebot starts by carrying a few webpages, and then follow the link on those web pages to find the new URL’s. By bouncing along the path of these links, the crawler finds new content and then adds it to their index known as Caffeine- a huge database of detected URL’s which is later to be recovered when a customer is looking for information that the content on that URL matches with.

What is a search engine index?

A search engine processes and stores information that they find in an index, a massive database of all content they have found, and seem good enough to serve the searchers.

 What is search engine ranking?

When somebody performs a search, the search engines search their index for relevant content and then order that same content with the hope of solving the searcher’s question. This order of search engine results as per relevance is known as search engine ranking. In common, you can assume that the higher the rank of a website is, the more relevant the search engine considers it for a customer’s query.

It is possible to block search engine crawlers from your site or train search engines to avoid storing a few pages in their index. While there can be some reasons behind this, if you want your content found by the customers, you must first ensure that it is accessible to crawlers and it is also indexable.

Search engine algorithm

A search engine algorithm is a distinctive formula that determines how the sites are sorted in the search engine results page. A search engine algorithm is a trademark of each search engine, therefore, it is kept secret. The search engine algorithm is a combination of different ranking factors. You will find several articles that deal with the “real” Google ranking factor. The reality is that even when you know about the factors, you do not know their exact weights. The most significant factor of all search engines is relevancy. The main objective of search engines is to find what the user is searching for.

As far as Google is concerned, the most important ranking factors include:

  • Website or content relevancy
  • Relevancy and strength of backlinks
  • Usability
  • Content structure and optimization
  • Accessibility
  • Social signals
  • Page speed
  • Domain authority

Popular Search Engines in the World


With more than 75 percent of the search engine market share, Google is one of the popular search engines in the world. However, it clearly needs to head up a list of search engines. Developed as a research project by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1996, they decided to sell their engine in 1999 to Excite for a hooting $750,000. This offer was rejected by putting Google at the top of the list of “bad business calls” too. Now, the parent company of Google, Alphabet is worth nearly $650 billion. Other than powering their own search results, Google also offers the search results for varieties of other search engines.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The biggest benefit of ranking on Google is the enormous potential traffic. The only problem is that everyone else wants this traffic, which makes organic search the most competitive one and paid search en expensive one compared to other sites.

In addition, many people argue that Google is moving searchers away from clicking the websites and using it fulfills their needs and intents directly on Google through featured snippets, fewer numbers of organic results on the first page of Google, increases in paid search results, etc. making the competition costlier with a less potential reward.


YouTube was founded in 2005 by veterans of PayPal and was bought a year after the purchase of Google. This made it the second among the most popular search engines in the world.  YouTube receives over 1.5 billion logged-in users every month and feeds more than 1 billion hours of video every day to users.

Pros and cons of this search engine

Like Google, it is easy to see the attraction of such huge traffic but that is also the drawback for marketers. Using YouTube as a medium for attaining traffic must not be underestimated. However, considering that more than 30 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. It can be a challenging task to stand out.  With several paid opportunities under Google AdWords, it can get pricey to fight on that front.

That being said, if you can grab the attention of your target location on YouTube with unique campaigns like those by GoPro or Blendtec, you can attain amazing exposure economically.

You Tube


One of the most popular search engines in the world, Bing was launched by Microsoft in 2009. It was a new project after the earlier search engines Windows Live Search or MSN Search. The objective of discovering this search engine was to develop Google’s competitor. From a global point of view, Bing is the 2nd most popular tool used for online searches.

Originally, it was one of the most commonly used search engines and email providers. The company grew majorly in 1990, but after 2000, the company somehow lacked innovation and started losing their value. In 2017, Yahoo! was obtained by Verizon Communications.


Amazon was introduced in 1995 and, therefore, is regarded as one of the first companies to sell products online.  Initially, they started selling books online but grew rapidly. In 1999, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos won Time’s Person of the Year for making online shopping of products so popular and easy.

Several reports have found that last year more than half of online shopping searches happened not at Google but at Amazon. Combining this with their purchase of Wholefoods, which gives them access to fresh food items, and one can be sure to see the number rising.

Pros and Cons of Amazon

Positives, like on Google, are an obvious scale. If you sell blue widgets and you want to be at the place where people search for them, then you must be on Amazon.

In fact, some can argue depending on the numbers that having a tone of useful content might help you to rank on Google and get all those people trying to find out what blue widgets are and which one they require, but unless you are on Amazon, you won’t b where they are when they are really looking to convert.

The disadvantage is that the competition is intense, the pricing and other details are simple to compare vs competing items, and the cost of selling there can get expensive at times. Entering soon can be hard if you do not have a unique product as reviews and sales are vital for rankings. For a similar reason, well-established firms with good items and reputations can hold their placements too.


Ask, earlier known as Ask Jeeves was introduced in 1996. It was designed to answer queries submitted to the search form. Thanks to the Ask toolbar as this search engine competes with big players like Yahoo, Google, and Bing. Regrettably, this toolbar was several times installed as an unnecessary browser feature.


 In 2006, Facebook was invented. From 2004 till then, it was used only students and in 2006, it was opened for the entire world. It is not a natural go-to when discussing search engines, however, last year it surprised about 2 billion searches or day putting it ahead of Bing. With over 1.5 billion logged-in visitors every month, Facebook also offers businesses and advertisers incredible market access and tends to be where customers are when they are not working, meaning they may be in a good situation to follow their nose and get side-tracked by your offering if it is of interest.

Advantages and Disadvantages

It is possibly becoming quite obvious how this story plays out, the largest “pro” is the user base but as is true with nearly all platforms. With that user base comes the biggest disadvantage- “the cost.”

Based on your target demographic, the price can increase up to several dollars per each click making it much cheaper than Google AdWords but it is still costly. Some people can even argue that traffic is not as affected. While traffic via Google AdWords search system revolves around search queries lending inherent relevancy, a lot of Facebook ad revolves around locations, job titles, demographic data, and interests. You tend to miss a bit on relevancy, however, it is a great method for getting in front of people even when they are not searching for you.


One of the popular search engines in the world Baidu was discovered in 2000. It is a dominant search engine in China with more than 82 percent market share where Google comes in at about 0.61 percent and Bing at nearly 0.37 percent. They are making big investments in AI and establishing the structure that several others have to follow or at least contend with in regards to deciding which firms will have competitive and monetary benefits.

The only disadvantage of Baidu is that it gives access to a single market. The benefit of using Baidu is its access is huge. It is important to understand that accessing the Chinese market is not as simple as accessing other markets. The verbiage, customs, and visuals are totally different and Google Translate is not going to help you in winning your customers. If you want to access the Chinese market through Baidu, you need someone who speaks the Chinese language and has a basic knowledge of both marketing and culture. As a whole, the organic algorithms are more simplistic compared to Google and their paid system can be simpler after the setup but that setup is more difficult for those who live outside China.

Duckduckgo search engines

The unique thing about this search engine is that it does not collect any type of personal information. This means customers can search in peace without worrying about anyone keeping an eye on them.  This is a perfect search engine for those who want to keep their personal information and browsing habits private.

Search Encrypt

It is a private search engine that makes use of local encryption to make sure that the searches remain private. It uses a blend of encryption methods that consist of Secure Sockets Layer encryption along with AES-256 encryption.

When you ask a query, Search Encrypt will pull several results from its huge group of search partners and provide the requested info. One of the most important parts of Search Encrypt is that your search terms will finally expire, so your information will always remain private even if someone accesses your computer.

CC Search

This is one of the popular search engines in the world if you need music for a video, image for a blog, or anything else without thinking about those angry artists chasing you for copying their work. The way this search engine works is simple. It attracts in results from several platforms like Wikimedia, Flickr, Soundcloud, and displays results described as Creative Commons material.


The search engine has its roots in a project which was started by two Russian developers to help in the classification of patients under the firm, Arkadia. The term, Yandex was embraced in 1993 which stands for “Yet Another iNDEXer. The domain, was launched in 1997.  In the year 2011, they went on public on the New York Stock Exchange. This made it the second largest search engine at that time after Google. Currently, Yandex powers over half of all the searches in Russia.

Pros and Cons

As with most of the small search engines, there is less traffic on Yandex but the competition is lower both in paid or organically. The algorithms used by this search engine are less sophisticated when compared to Google and therefore, are easier to access and optimize. Now, the disadvantage: Although the algorithms of Yandex are less sophisticated than Google, they have certain elements that make it difficult for the outsiders, including a high premium on the geolocation. The paid system is definitely more flexible in this regard and when compared to Facebook, Bing, and Google it tends to be less costly per click.


It is a privacy-focused search engine launched by Verizon Media, in January 2020. It guarantees:

  • No tracking of tracking, retargeting and personal profiling
  • Sharing of personal information with advertisers strictly prohibited
  • No storage of user’s search history
  • Unfiltered and unbiased search results


This is a meta-search engine launched in 1955. It develops the search engine results page by doing synchronized search requests for a similar query in other search engines, namely Yahoo, Google, Yandex, and several others.


It is said to be the Google of South Korea. This search engine covers nearly 75% of searches in the country. It was introduced in 1999 and in 2000 it was able to pull out different kinds of results that match with the entered keywords. The results include images, websites, restaurants, shops, blogs, etc. Google launched this same feature after 5 years.

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