Sunday Story
How Do Search Engines Work?
Writer: Aditya Rao
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In today’s Digital Age, information seems to be at your fingertips. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing help you quickly find answers to any questions that you may have about the world around you. But what is a search engine and how do they work? 

What is a Search Engine

Unlike what Suppandi believes, a search engine is a computer program that searches for and identifies items in a database. Search engines are especially used to find information and sites on the internet. A search engine is made up of two parts: 

(a) A database of information; and 

(b) Algorithms or instructions for the search engine to find the right information.

Search Engine Database

Every web page on the internet has a unique web address that is also known as its Uniform Resource Locator or URL. Can you spot a URL somewhere on your screen? Yes, right there at the top of your screen is the URL for this very page that you are reading!

The search engine’s database consists of a list of all these web addresses and a library of their content. All your favourite posts like Shambu’s Wildshots and Toon Text will have entries in the search engine’s library. 

The database is updated and organized by the processes of crawling and indexing.

Crawling: Crawlers are computer programs that regularly check if the web pages listed in the database have any new content. They also look for new web pages that have been created.

Indexing: The crawlers then update the search engine’s library with the newly-acquired information. This is known as Indexing. When crawlers come across the latest Tinkle Headline published every Monday, they add it to their library.

Search Engine Algorithms

When you type in a search query, the search engine uses algorithms, or mathematical instructions, to rank web pages on how relevant their content is to your query. These instructions allow the search engine to not only look for the exact words in your query but also for related terms. If you search for “Tinkle,” the search engine may also look for related terms like “comics,” “magazine” and “Amar Chitra Katha.”

Here are some of the algorithms (algos for short) used by search engines:

  • One algo is topical relevance, which checks for relevant information.
  • Content style determines whether the user is looking for images, videos or textual content.
  • Freshness is an algo that checks whether the query requires a search of only the latest content or not.
  • Content Quality makes sure the content has been created by an expert in the field, a voice of authority or an organization that can be trusted to give useful information on the topic. Just like you’ll get the most authoritative information on Big Baan Sightings on the Tinkle website, of course.
  • Web pages are also ranked on accessibility. This measures how fast the pages of a website load in a browser and whether the content can be easily read on a mobile device.
  • Finally, search engines can also be tasked to use one’s location, search history and search settings to personalize the search results. If you searched for Tinkle’s History of the IPL post, then during your next search for “Tinkle”, the search bar might suggest the same to you, in case you want to read it again.

 

The Search Continues

And that, Tinkle readers, is how search engines work. You’re now ready to enter clearer queries to search the internet for better results.

Happy Searching!

Sources:
How Do Search Engines Work and Why Should You Care? (ahrefs.com)
How Search Engines Work: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking | Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Moz
How Search Engines Work: Everything You Need to Know to Understand Crawlers – Alexa Blog
How Search Engines Work: A Guide to Search Engine Algorithms (spyfu.com)
How do Search Engines Work? – DeepCrawl

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