Introduction to Search Engines

What are search engines?

A search engine is an online tool that helps people find information on the internet. A typical example? Google. 

And the truth is, Google is also probably the only example you need to know. Just look at the chart of the worldwide search engine market share 

How do search engines work?

The process in which search engines work consists of these main steps:

  • Crawling
  • Indexing
  • Serving


Crawling is the discovery process in which search engines send out a team of robots (known as crawlers or spiders) to find new and updated content. 

Content can vary — it could be a webpage, an image, a video, a PDF, etc. — but regardless of the format, content is discovered by links.

Pages are crawled for a variety of reasons including:

  • Having an XML sitemap with the URL 
  • Having internal links pointing to the page
  • Having external links pointing to the page
  • Getting a spike in traffic to the page


Once the website is crawled, the information is indexed. The search engines try to analyze and understand the pages, categorize them, and store them in the index.

The search engine index is basically a gigantic library of all the crawled websites with a single purpose – to understand them and have them available to be used as a search result.

Picking the results

Once the internet user submits a search query, the search engine digs into the index and pulls out the best results. 

The list of the results is known as a SERP (Search Engines Results Page).

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