An Overview of Growing Importance of Search Engines
When we hear the word “search engine” or even the word “search”, the first thing that pops into our mind is Google. In a world of globalization and innovation that is moving from ‘ God is the answer’ to ‘ Google is the answer’, the relevance and importance of search engines are becoming extremely important. This post aims to provide a clear understanding of search engines, their history, benefits and offers a glimpse into the working of this seemingly magical software that had become a solution to all our needs for information.
On the whole, search engines are the perfect modern-day version of magical lamps hiding wish-granting genies, except the wish here is that for the need of information. Knowledge is and always has been power and this important innovation has brought the world to our fingertips and revolutionized the information retrieval process.
The great importance and remarkable factor about search engines are that they made the access and acquisition of information available to the common person. Understanding how people searched for information before the discovery of search engines could help us appreciate the importance of search engines more.
Benefits of Using Search Engines
Have you been to libraries (which by itself is becoming a rare place) and beheld volumes of encyclopedias and other records that have been painstakingly stored and preserved for scholars to access information?
It is a testimony to our technology that we now gain access to most of the information we need within seconds of entering a query in search engines as compared to people of the previous era, who would go through those volumes and stacks of physical data to get a piece of information.
And we get irritated when our web page takes a few seconds more to load fully!
Arguably the most striking feature that adds to the importance of search engines is the way it saves time for those who seek data and information. In today’s fast-paced world, time is gold, and these search engines are designed to provide the best possible service in the shortest span of time this speaks volumes about the technological growth of our world.
Have you heard of the phrase ‘contains everything under the sun ‘? We’ll, search engines contain information about everything above and around the sun too, or the whole universe and beyond for that matter. And what’s more this information is accessible to anyone – right from a casually curious browser to a student on a research project.
Unless otherwise classified by the government, specific organizations, or personalized and privatized, search engines present to the user’s everything on the internet for their perusal.
3. Fostering Self Reliance
With the process of acquiring information becoming easy and accessible to everyone, search engines have made people more self-reliant and assured of themselves. Whether it fact-checking an assignment or translating a language in real-time, search engines have made it possible for people to explore and gain more knowledge.
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Types of Search Engines
1. Full-Text Search Engine: This type of search engine obtains its results for the user’s query by examining each and every word in all of the documents stored in its database. This is a common technique of search engines used in bibliographic setups like research and publishing.
2. Directory Search Engine: This type of search engine gets all its results from preexisting lists of directories and the entries made in them by humans leading it to be called human-based search engines. The main advantage here is the results are extremely relevant to the user query and each and every website and its content are manually approved before it is added to the directory.
However, for the same reason, it poses a disadvantage as sometimes some search queries could be too obscure for the search engine to give even remotely relevant results. Popular examples include Open Directory Project, Internet Public Library, and so on.
3. Meta Search Engine: This type of search engine is the one that searches search engines itself! It scours through other search engines and combines the many into a single list. The advantage here is the users are given access to more results, while the disadvantage lies in the fact that these results might lack in quality or proper relevancy due to varied sources with their different kinds of directories and indexes.
Search Engines and their Optimization
Despite its numerous benefits, the reason search engines are now in limelight in the world of Content writing, Digital marketing, or E-Commerce and IT, in general, is due to the way search engines rank websites that could make or break a company’s venture in the digital world. The world of today has woken up to the importance of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.
When a user enters a keyword in the search bar, they visit the web pages or sites that are at the top or on the first page. In fact, in an article by Forbes, it is revealed that the first displayed page in the search results and in turn the websites in it capture 92% of the clicks leaving the second and pages beyond it barely in the picture.
This increases the importance of search engines as now all websites enter the race to appeal to the search engine and its ranking criteria so as to get the top spots. And therein lies the necessity of SEO. In simple words, SEO refers to the process by which a website is enhanced in certain ways so that a search engine would display it at the top of its result page.
The more times a site appears on the search results, the more chance it has to attract the user’s attention and gain traffic. Thus website developers and others involved in the field must constantly be aware of the importance of search engines and their ranking algorithms to make sure their website gets the best rankings and thus, in turn, visibility and traffic.
As we realize the importance of search engines, the process of optimizing them takes precedence to a point where SEO is one of the fast-developing and prominent fields of career choice in the IT world.
Many institutes, including IIM Skills with its course titled Advanced SEO Course, offer to teach the art of optimization to make sure the future workforce of the IT field understands the importance of search engines and the optimization of websites to increase visibility.
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How do Seach Engines Work?
- Search engines have a special program called the Crawler that is used for retrieving web pages. They are also known as spiders.
- These are specially designed bots that each search engine owns and uses to “crawl” over billions of web pages and download them along with extracting the links in them.
- This information – the discovered web pages are stored in a data structure called the Index.
- After the crawling process obtains the data, it is stored and organized according to relevance.
- This database that stores the crawled pages is known as Index and every search engine has its own version of it.
- The system of storage is called the Inverted or Reversed Index where the elements from the downloaded web pages are compiled and their meanings reduced with pointers. This is done to reduce the space that could be taken up to store the elements of the web pages in their entire form.
- When a user enters a search query, the search engine then scans its index and identifies everything that it deems relevant to the given keyword.
- A Search Engine Algorithm is then used to rank the preliminary search result of relevant pages in the order closest to the user’s query and the quality of the page itself.
- The final result is then displayed to the user.
The ordering of these search results is different when a user uses different search engines despite the keyword being the same. This is because every search engine uses a different algorithm to rank the preliminary results. This is why a page with a high rank in Google might shift down or up in Yahoo.
Jargon and Popular Terms
SEM – Search Engine Marketing
Along with SEO – Search Engine Optimization, SEM is another aspect of digital marketing that companies have to find a way to fit seamlessly in their proceedings on the Internet. This strategy, when executed correctly would boost the visibility levels of a website in the SERPs – Search Engine Result Pages.
A popular example of this strategy is when companies and other business ventures operating online could arrange for their advertisements to appear alongside or part of the web pages that a user is led to after typing a web query in popular search engines like Google.
Search Engine Result Page: To put it simply, this is the web page that a user is led to land on after entering a search query in Google, Bing, or any other such popular search engine. It is basically the product of the user’s search ordered for us in terms of factors like relevance.
This is extremely important for a company based on the web because it directly affects their website’s traffic. When the page appears at the beginning of the SERP, there are more chances for it to be noticed and even click on by users and potential customers.
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Like its scientific counterpart, Mining is the process of processing something useful out of something raw. Similarly, data mining is when the information and data available on the internet is used to create patterns and models that predict consumer behavior.
This prediction could help websites to brainstorm ideas on what the users find favorable and expand upon that. It is a marker of consumer preference and satisfaction report by indirect means like analyzing popular browsing patterns and so on.
The cache is yet another term in relation to the testament of the speed of a search engine that in its simple terms means “hidden”. This is the shortest, easily accessible form of a website, usually containing its text-only version that is stored in our device when we browse the internet through the search engines.
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A sitemap, also known as an XML sitemap is where the URLs of all the web pages associated with a specific website are stored. This makes it easier for search engines like Google to keep track of a website’s pages and rank them better. A sitemap is one of the factors that enhance the ranking of a website as they act as mini directories for search engines themselves.
Also known as PR, this is a formula that is named after Larry Page, the founder of the most popular web search engine – Google. This algorithm is used to make a calculated ranking of web pages based on how important it is. This is done by taking into account the various links to a web page and its standard.
Considered to be one of the important factors taken into account when a web search engine ranks a page, it is the connection of two web pages by having the link of one in another and vice versa. This reveals to the search engine that one page guarantees the value of content offered by the other and thus its reliability.
This is the part of the internet that is beyond the reach of popular search engines and thus not openly available for usage by the general public. Its access is restricted to websites of and from institutions like government, military, law enforcement, banking systems, and so on that deal with the personal information of people.
Popular examples of what makes up the content of the deep web include the details of E-mail and other social media accounts, internet banking accounts, and by the latest, our vaccination certificates and so on that need personalized permissions to be accessible to specific people despite being available on the internet.
Also popularly known as a link directory, this is a list of websites that are systemically organized into categories so as to ease the process of finding the one according to the user’s query. This term is generally used interchangeably with that of a search engine itself.
However, it differs by the simple fact that web directories are put together by humans while in search engines it is automatically curated by web crawlers as mentioned above. Popular examples of web directories include Yellow pages, Google Business, and so on.
1. What is a search engine?
A search engine is a software that works by scouring the internet for the keyword or search term entered by the user and displays the web pages, ranking them in the factor of most relevant and good quality. They are software, programs, or even web scripts that are designed to simplify the process of getting information from the vastness of the Internet. Some popular examples of search engines include Google, Yahoo, Bing, and so on.
2. What is the importance of search engines in student life?
The importance of search engines in itself is based on their striking features like speed and the way it has made gaining access to information very easy. To a student, to whom this information is knowledge and knowledge the key to success, search engines have revolutionized and fostered the self-learning aspect of education making all kinds of lessons available for students from the very best internet has to offer.
3. Why is Google the most famous search engine?
Google is popular by being the fastest search engine as it developed its own index, which in turn has some of the largest numbers of sites, to search the internet and ‘tame’ the vast resources of the internet into easily accessible, ranked results. Providing faster search results and having extensive indexes to do so has increased its popularity, thus proving that the importance of search engines is determined by their ability to maintain online customer satisfaction.
4. What is the difference between a search engine and a web browser?
A web browser is software that is used to retrieve and present to its users a website while a search engine helps us get search results – a list of web pages from various websites in its index. In short, a browser is an infrastructure while the search engine is a kind of service to be provided to the user. For example, Google Chrome is a web browser, Google is a search engine.
With the growing awareness about the internet in today’s pandemic stricken world, people have discovered the benefits of E-commerce and the power of the digital world to cater to our needs in the comfort of our homes. This has also made developers and creators online realize the importance of search engines and the need to optimize our websites in a way it makes it easier for search engines to rank them higher. With “Google it” becoming one of the most famous reactions to almost every question, it is high time we learn what goes into the making and working of it. Thus, the writer hopes this post has introduced this great creation of the modern era and given an insight into the working and importance of search engines.