When we talk about the Internet, one of the first things that come into our minds is “Google”. Google is probably the most popular search engine used by billions of users for many years. The word “Google” is even used to replace the word “search”. People will say, “Try to Google it” which means “try searching through the Internet.”
Before the digital era, we have to go to the nearest library, check the card catalog, manually look for the books and other materials that contain our topic and read through these books pages, for us to get relevant information. Searching before is so hard and takes too much time from us.
But now, everything is instant. You just open the web browser, search through any search engines about a certain topic and all results are instantly given to you. Amazing! But do you know how these search engines exactly work?
Here are the three basic stages of a search engine:
Crawling is the first stage for a search engine. This is the part when the search engine acquires data about websites. It scans the site and gets data and information. This includes page titles, keywords, contents, as well as page layout, advertisers’ spots, inbound and outbound links and other necessary information. An automated bot referred to as a ‘spider’ crawls to every website pages and gather the data. Spiders start at heavily used servers and most opened pages and quickly travels across the web.
After the spiders crawl the websites, all the data gathered will be placed inside a huge database accordingly. There are two components involved in indexing data: the information stored with the data and the method by which the information is indexed. So imagine in a library, for example, you are tasked to gather the title of the book, its author, topics, and subtopics. This is how indexing by search engines happen, but more.
Ranking and Retrieval
Now, this is the time when you input your query on search engines. The search engines will then display the most relevant results that match your query. It will provide you billions of results, however, these are ranked according to relevance and popularity. Relevant results are those sites and pages that match the keywords in your query, whereas popular results are content from authority websites or sites that are opened by many users since its publication. Both the relevance and popularity are influenced by search engine optimization. That is why websites are working so hard to maintain their ranking on top of search engine results.
The science behind search engines is really amazing. Its efficiency and accuracy in providing results are really incredible. Search engines have redefined our means of looking for information. Gone are the days when we have to spend days on the library to look for the most precious data. In the Internet, everything is provided. However, we should not rely always on what is provided by the Internet. We also have to learn how to research in expanding our knowledge.