How Search Engines Work

A search engine is a web site used by the public to find other web sites and information on the internet – but how does it work?

Internet search engines store  information on a large number of pages on the web. Every search engine uses what are called web crawlers (also known as spiders or bots) which ‘crawl’ the internet, following every hyperlink in their path. The web crawler will gather information on every page it visits, including key words and phrases, and this information is stored on the search engine’s database. These pages are analysed by the system, and are then indexed using the key words taken from the title, body of text or special html fields called meta tags.

When you visit a search engine and type in what you are looking for, the moment you click “search”, the engine begins to locate all web sites indexed with the words you have entered, i.e. if you searched for “web design”, the system would locate all listed web sites that have the words “web” and/ or “design” in their title, body of text or meta tags. The web sites that appear in the top search results are the pages that have the closest correlation to the specified key words that were initially entered.


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