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Jargon Busted - 'Search Engine'

What Does 'Search Engine' Really Mean?

In search engine marketing and all concerned with web marketing, internet marketing and promoting web sites, we talk daily about search engines. But do we really all mean the same thing - what is a search engine?

Put simply, a search engine is a database of web pages that has been collated from earlier searches on the internet. This database is provided in such a way that you can quickly create a list of web pages that match the search terms that you have entered. Search is the more obvious of the two words - but why engine? Engine is used frequently within the IT sector to describe software that performs a function - often these programs are plugged into bigger programs and the 'engine' enables the bigger program to perform its specific role.

Search engines are 'powering' your ability to view what is available to you on the world wide web - so the term could have been 'powered search'.

How do they do this - and why is it a list of 'earlier searches'? This is how:-

  • The search engine sends a software program (spider or crawler) to all web pages it can find on the world wide web.
  • The search engine software then scans the web page.
  • It sends back the results of its scan to the search engine database.
  • The search engine database receives the scanned information from the web page - and - just as a librarian would - creates an index of all it has received in such a way that it is easy to carry out a later search.
  • The search engine offers access to the public through a portal on the world wide web.
  • Following the input of a search into the search engine's portal, the search engine uses a complex formula or algorithm to pull pages from its index and to list each page with a brief description of contents. The algorithm attempts to list the pages in order of relevancy to you search

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