What are search engines?

A search engine is an online tool that allows users to search for information on the Internet.

How exactly? It checks the results in its own database, sorts them and then creates an ordered list of these results using unique search algorithms. This list is called the search engine results page (SERP).

There are a multitude of search engines in the world (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Msn, etc.). They differ in many ways, but work on the same principles of searching and displaying relevant answers to its users.

History of search engines

  • The first search engine on the Internet was introduced in 1990, called the Archie Query Form – it was a simple tool that searched for FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites and provided them as a list.
  • predecessor Google – BackRub was introduced in 1996. This search engine introduced the basic principle of backlinks and laid the foundations of the PageRank algorithm, which is still used today.
  • Google it was launched in 1998 as the successor to BackRub and over the years it has become the most popular and dominant search engine in the world, still being the most used.

How search engines work

Search engines are different from each other in their ways of providing answers to the user, but they are all built on 3 fundamental principles:

  1. Crawling
  2. Indexing
  3. Ranking

How Search Engines Work: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking - TheInboundly

1. Crawling

Discovering new web pages on the internet starts with the process called crawling.

Search engines use small programs called web crawlers (sometimes called bots or "bot spiders") that follow links from already known pages to new ones to be discovered. You can find out more information here about Google Bot.

Every time a web crawler finds a new web page from a different source, it scans and submits its content for further processing (called indexing) and continues discovering new web pages.

Here you can watch a video explaining exactly how the whole process works, from the moment you enter a Google search.

2. Indexing

As soon as the bots access the data, the indexing stage follows – the process of validating and storing the content of the web pages in the search engine's database called the "index". Basically, this is a big library that includes all websites.

Your website must be indexed to appear on the search engine results page. It is important to note that both crawling and indexing are continuous processes that occur over and over again to keep the database always up to date.

Once the web page is crawled and indexed, it can be found on that search engine.

3. Ranking

The last step includes choosing the best results and creating a list of pages that will appear on the results page.

Each search engine uses dozens of ranking criteria and most of them are unknown and unavailable to the public.

Even Martin Splitt, Webmaster Trends Analyst said that:

"We have over 200 criteria to do this. So we look at things like your title, your meta description, the actual content that you have on your page, images, links, all kinds of things.” (Martin Splitt, Webmaster Trends Analyst)

What is the search engine algorithm?

Search engine algorithm is a term used to define a complex system of several algorithms that evaluate all indexed pages and determine which of them should appear in search results.

For example, Google's algorithm uses dozens of factors (many of which are known) in several areas, such as:

  • Understanding the query (understanding what the user meant by the exact words they used, what their search intent is, etc.)
  • The relevance of the page (the search engine needs to know if the page matches the search query)
  • Content quality (algorithms determine whether web pages are a great source of information based on internal and external factors; number and quality of backlinks are important factors here)
  • Use of the page (takes into account the quality of the web page from a technical point of view – response speed, page speed, security level, etc.)

Search engine optimization

In addition to providing useful information to their users, search engines can also help businesses promote their websites.

Optimizing your website for relevant search results is an important part of any online marketing strategy. This strategy can generate a lot of organic traffic to your web pages.

All these techniques and strategies that site owners do to improve their search rankings are part of the strategy of SEO optimization.

SEO soup

If we were to simplify the terms of "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO), we could say that it can be defined based on these 3 important factors:

  • Very good content
  • Quality backlinks
  • Technical optimization


The most popular search engines

There are several search engines around the world. Of all these, some dominate the Internet, others are specific to certain geographical regions.


List of top 5 most popular search engines:

1. Google

Google is the largest and most popular search engine in the world.

It is owned by parent company Alphabet and dominates the search engine market with more than 90% of market share worldwide.

With all its features including sophisticated algorithms, efficient indexing and ranking bots, Google provides excellent search results. Google also supports answers for other smaller search engines (eg ask.com). For this reason, Google has been #1 globally for many years.

2. Microsoft Bing

Bing is the second most popular and useful search engine. It was launched in 2009 and is owned by Microsoft.

It is impossible to compare Bing as a real opponent like Google. Bing only has 2-3 percent of the overall search engine market share. This is, however, a good alternative for those who would like to try something different.

Microsoft Bing is in many ways similar to Google, offering search result types such as images, videos, places, maps or news, just like Google.

Although Bing uses the fundamental principles of search engines (crawling, indexing, ranking), it also uses a special algorithm called Space Partition Tree And Graph, which relies on vectors to classify information and answer search queries.

3. Yahoo!

Yahoo is a popular website, being the main email provider and the third largest search engine in the world, with almost 2% of the overall search engine market share.

It used to be a very popular search engine, but Yahoo has declined in value over the years and has become overshadowed by Google.

Yahoo currently competes with smaller search engines such as Bing or DuckDuckGo (search engine that tries to protect the privacy of its users)

4. Yandex

Yandex (from the term "Yetc Another iNDEXer" /"yet another iNDEXer") is a popular search engine in most Eastern countries.

Although it has less than 1% of the overall search engine market share, it is one of the most popular search engines in countries such as Russia (with more than 60% of all searches in the country), Turkey, Ukraine or Belarus.

Similar to Google, Yandex offers different types of services, including Maps, Translation, Yandex Money or even Yandex Music.

5. Baidu

Baidu is the most dominant search engine in China. Even though its global market share is barely 1%, it accounts for over 80% of China's market share, with billions of searches every day.

Baidu is similar to Google in many ways and presents a multitude of results, just like Google.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) FAQs

What is a search engine?

A search engine is a software system that allows Internet users to search for exact content or information through wworld wides we.g. The search engine collects and organizes content from across the web, and users access it through queries using different keywords or phrases. In order to improve the user experience (that is, to return relevant results according to incoming queries), search engines change their algorithms (the program for filtering and ranking results) quite often.

What does SEO mean?

Search Engine Optimization, or Search Engine Optimization, is a process of improving the visibility of websites or web pages on different search engines. This aims to increase the organic / natural traffic of a site.

What is the most popular search engine?

Google as a search engine has been the leader in its industry for years and still dominates the search engine market.

Why is Google the most popular search engine?

The reasons why Google is the most used search engine are:

  • It was one of the first search engines
  • It is constantly being improved
  • It is the fastest and gives concrete results
  • It provides the most relevant results
  • It is connected to several free services, which is beneficial for any user

How can search engines make money?

Google uses its own advertising service called Google Ads, through which it can help businesses display their products in the first search results. In return, they charge a small commission each time a user clicks on that ad's/ad's link.

Google also embeds its own services (e.g. Gogole Play, Google Cloud, Google Apps, etc.) through its own search engine and thereby generates revenue through customers using them.

What is the difference between a web browser and a search engine?

The web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc.) is a software application installed on your computer or smartphone. The purpose of the browser is to provide an easy-to-use interface to display web pages.

A search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) is an online tool that can be accessed through a web browser. The purpose of a search engine is to provide answers to users' questions in the form of relevant web pages.

What was the first search engine?

The first search engine was called Archie (from the name "Archive") and was created in 1990 by a student named Alan Emtage.

Although there were some indexing programs before (such as "X.500" or "Whois"), Archie was the first real search engine that was able to find specific files on the Internet.