Search Engine: The Basics


Initially people used to quarrel over doubts, uncertainty about an answer, unsolved conclusion about an assumption, etc. The scenario was different, people used to ask for opinions from others. They used to survey those particular products, etc. But now, if you want to know more about a new mobile phone or a new car model, you just key it in on any search engine and the information is available, right?

For many online users out there, Google is the internet. It’s the default homepage plus it is the first stop for surfing any other site. Search engines have changed and improved a lot since their inception. Without search engines, content and information would be all hand-picked like reading the whole newspaper or buying a magazine for a small piece of information.

Have you ever asked yourself this question- how does a search engine work? Well, there are three basic stages for a search engine:

The first stage: Crawling
This is where it starts, acquisition of data about a website. This includes scanning the site and getting a complete list of everything, like the images, page title, keywords it contains, and any other pages it links accordingly. Modern crawlers may store a copy of the whole page. How is a website crawled accurately? An automated spider popularly known as a bot visits each page, just like an individual but at a faster rate. The crawler or bot then adds all the new found links and enlist them for next step. It’s a never-ending process.

The second stage: Indexing
For instance, you are making a list of cars in your vicinity i.e. car models, specifications, exteriors, interiors, etc. Studying each car model is the crawl and jotting down the list is the index. But now visualize, it’s not just a vicinity full of cars, but every car in the world. That’s pretty much an uphill task, however, it is accomplished by a reliable search engine. All of this data is stored in vast data centers with thousands of petabytes worth of drives. So, indexing can be defined as a place where the data is analyzed and stored in huge databases.

The third stage: Ranking and retrieval
This is the last stage of this process. It is the most complicated step, but the most relevant one for any individual operating on the search engine. A query is typed in by you and the search engine attempts to display the most relevant documents it finds that match your query. It is the stage where a user query fetches a list of relevant pages. The ranking algorithm inspects your search query against billions of web pages to determine how appropriate each one is. The process is so complex that companies closely protect their own ranking algorithms as patented industry secrets.

Today, the understanding of the exact algorithm is even more cloaked under a mystery than ever, and the dark art of search engine optimization has been largely disabled. The advice now is to focus on providing the best content, with a great user experience. Considering that almost sixty percent of all the users end up clicking the topmost result. Hence, it’s a proven fact about ‘why ranking your page on a search engine is so important?’

Nitesh Shah
Nitesh serves as the Sr. Technology and Systems Head at QualiSpace with an extensive knowledge of technology. He oversees the infrastructure of technical operations, keeps track of the entire technology as well as the IT team to achieve targets. As a technical head, he is also responsible for eliminating security risks, enhancing user experience and maintaining operations and systems. Connect Nitesh on LinkedIn