June 30, 2022 Shankari Das

Search Engines: Why Is It So Important?

You may know that a search engine is an online tool designed to search for websites on the internet. The search is based on the user’s search query.

Understanding how search engines work is beneficial to your business as it can help your business use SEO to reach out to potential customers.


What are Search Engines?

You can define a search engine as a tool to assist you with your search query. It looks for the results in its database, then sorts the results and makes an ordered list of these results using unique search algorithms.

This ordered list is visible to the user who is searching. This list is called a search engine results page or SERP.

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Today there are various search engines worldwide, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc, but the general principles of searching are pretty similar. They provide answers which are identical across all of them.

Interesting Facts About Search Engines

Archie Query Form
The first internet search engine was named Archie Query Form, introduced in 1990. It was a simple tool that searched for FTP websites and displayed them in the form of a list. It did not include any other content like we see today.

Google’s predecessor
BackRub, introduced in 1996, brought the basic principle of backlinks that we use today. It also laid the foundation for the PageRank algorithm, which is still used today.

Yes, Google launched in 1998 as a successor of BackRub. You must be familiar with Google. Over the years, it has become the world’s most popular and dominant search engine.

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

Web browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, etc. are software applications often installed on your computer or a smartphone. The purpose of the browser is to provide a user-friendly interface to display webpages.

Engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. An online tool on the website can be accessed through a web browser. The purpose is to answer users’ queries in the form of relevant web page.


How Do Search Engines Work?

Though search engines can differ from one to another in their ways of providing the answers to the user. But the truth is they are all built on the 3 fundamental principles: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking.

To fulfill the daunting task of providing the best results possible for a given user query – today’s companies are reworking their algorithms.

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The Principals below:

1. Crawling

It was due to crawling that the actual discovery of new web pages on the internet started. The process we today know as crawling.

Search engines are nothing but small programs called web crawlers. They are sometimes called bots or even spider bots that follow links from already known pages to the new ones you create. These bots crawl to discover new pages you publish on your website.

As soon as a web crawler finds a new webpage through a link, it scans and passes the content for further processing, known as indexing. This process continues with the discovery of new web pages.

2. Indexing

Once the bots crawl the data on the new web page, it is time for indexing. Indexing is the process of validating and storing the content from the webpages in their search engine’s database known as “index”. Index is basically a big library of all the websites.

Your newly created website has to be indexed in order to be displayed on the search engine results page in the future when a user searches. Keep in mind that both crawling and indexing are continuous ongoing processes. These processes take place over and over again to keep their indexed database fresh.

Once your webpage is analyzed and saved in the index, it may be used as a search result for a potential search query.

3. Ranking

The last step includes picking the best results and creating a list of pages. This result will appear on your result page.

Every search engine uses dozens of ranking signals. But most of them are kept a secret, unavailable to the public.


Search Engines and SEO

Search engines do their best to think like human beings. They want to understand our queries clearly and spit out results that best answer these queries. However, even with updated search engine algorithms over the years, there is a long way toward achieving this goal.

On the other hand, SEO is the way of reaching out to search engines on their level, thus helping them better understand our websites.

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If you do any kind of business over the web – whether you sell products or services online, generate leads, or bring people to a brick-and-mortar location, you need SEO and SEO tools. Remember that SEO optimization is also very crucial for your website.

One study found that 51 percent of a website’s traffic can come from organic search. Note that it is more than social media, direct traffic, or advertising. It also includes referrals from emails, links on other websites, etc. Good SEO or search engine optimization could help you perform well in organic search, thus making your page appear higher on the lists of results that users often see.

On the flip side, bad SEO could even hurt your performance in organic search. In the best-case scenario, bad SEO makes it hard for them to understand your website content. Irrespective of how much authority you have on the subject.

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In the worst case, black hat SEO practices – whether you are doing them knowingly or not may cause search engines to give you a penalty. Thus ranking you lower for trying to manipulate their algorithm.

Here is the list of top, most popular ones:

1. Google

As you know, Google is the world’s biggest and most popular search engine. It was owned by its parent company Alphabet. Google today dominates the search engine market. The company has over 90 percent market share worldwide.
It provides excellent search results with all its features, including sophisticated algorithms, effective crawling, indexing, and ranking. It provides excellent results not only among its search engine but also powers others like ask.com.

2. Microsoft Bing

Bing is today the second largest search engine. Launched in 2009, it is owned by Microsoft. It is impossible to compare Bing as a real opponent to Google as it has only 2 – 3 percent of the overall search engine market share. But it is still an excellent alternative for people who want to try something different.
Microsoft Bing, similar to Google, provides search result types like images, places, videos, maps, or news.
Bing also uses the fundamental principles of search engines ( ie, crawling, indexing, ranking). Additionally, it uses a unique algorithm called Space Partition Tree And Graph – based on the vectors for categorization of information to answer search queries.

3. Yahoo!

Yahoo is another popular website. The email provider is the world’s third most significant search engine, with nearly 2 percent of the overall search engine market share.
It was once a viral and dominant search engine, but Yahoo dropped in value over the years and became overshadowed by Google. Nowadays, it competes with smaller ones like Bing or DuckDuckGo.

4. Yandex

Yandex – from the term “Yet Another iNDEXer” is a search engine popular mostly in eastern countries. It has less than 1 percent of the overall search engine market share. Today it is one of the most popular ones in countries like Russia, with over 60 percent of all searches in the country, Ukraine, Turkey, or Belarus.

5. Baidu

In China, Baidu is the most dominant search engine. Even though the overall market share is barely 1 percent, it represents about 80 percent of the market share in China. With billions of searches every day.


Search Engine Algorithm Updates

As you know, search engines have a hard job. They scan through millions of pages on the internet and try to present users with precisely the correct pages. So that it fits their interests and answers their questions.

But these companies can do this perfectly as they often release updates to their algorithms. In addition, they fix bugs, add new features, and try to give users a better experience.

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When Google updates its algorithm, websites might see huge boosts or massive dips in traffic. It depends on how well their website optimizes the new algorithm. Google usually releases minor updates, but some extensive updates have been necessary.
Many search engines today are targeted at black hat SEO practices. They often exploit shortcomings in the algorithm and try placing certain websites ahead in the search rankings. Pages that do not meaningfully answer questions or adequately serve readers.

Here are some of the most well-known updates you have come across in Google history:

Panda (2011)

The Panda update was one of Google’s first significant updates in modern SEO history. It successfully cut down on the effects of spam and so-called thin content in Google’s algorithm. Google constantly strives to promote high-quality content in its rankings.

Penguin (2012)

Before the Penguin update, websites could use spammy backlinks to rank low-value pages in search results. Penguin tracked these low-quality links, punishing websites with manipulative practices.

Hummingbird (2013)

Hummingbird helped Google to better understand user queries focusing on natural language and context. This update made Google more of a conversational search engine.

Pigeon (2014)

The Pigeon update brought a massive change to Google’s local SEO product. You can easily connect with users with their queries’ most relevant local results.

RankBrain (2015)

RankBrain, an AI, can understand precisely what searchers are looking for. Google uses it to understand questions and queries formatted in vernacular more clearly.

Fred (2017)

The Fred update was another blow to low-quality content on the web. It lowered the ranking authority of pages with a strong commercial element, such as advertorial content or content containing many affiliate links.

Medic (2018)

The Medic update strongly affected the healthcare industry. However, it also affected many other industries where trust plays an important role. With this, Google can evaluate the trustworthiness and authority of a given website on a specific topic.

How do Search Engines Make Money?

The primary source of revenue for these companies like Google comes from indirect sources. They monetize their services via:

Advertisement – Google and others use their own advertisement service called Google Ads. Thanks to this, it can help brands display their products in search results. In return, it takes a small commission every time a user clicks on the ad.
Online shopping – Search engines promote various products in their enhanced search results. If a target audience or customer buys or clicks one of the products, the search engine will, in exchange, take a small percentage from the purchase transaction.
Services – Google incorporates its services like Play Store, Google Cloud, Google Apps, etc., with its search engine. Therefore, it generates revenue via users who use them.

Read on similar topics like subdomain SEO, voice search optimization, psychographic segmentation, and more.

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