What is a Search Engine Anyway?

A search engine can be as complex (Google on the world wide web) or as simple (a website’s search bar capability). It allows you to enter a string of criteria that returns results that will potentially answer the inquiry that was entered, as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the ultimate goal behind every website and blog, professional or otherwise. Content writers use a systematic approach for SEO, implementing the best practices to this approach. Eventually, SEO enables the webpage to rank as close the number one link listed on the search results, as possible. While no one can guarantee the number one slot on any search engine, that does not stop SEO firms from trying.

Keywords and Meta Tags

It is estimated that Google has three billion searches daily. Add to that other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, Ask, DuckDuckGo, and more, and you have an explosive amount of traffic activity. There is a reason why it is called the Super Highway. With every news story, student research paper, business inquiry, and personal search, that number is only going to continue to erupt.So how does someone find little ol’ you and me, in the midst of the billions?

photo credit: jocelynb via photo pin cc

By strategically saturating and organizing content: text, pictures, video, and data, with keywords and meta tags. Keywords, text or character index entries, recognize and associate specific data, documents, videos or pictures. Meta tag define the content language of the page between the open and close head tags. That is why it is important to have your SEO keyword show in your page title, as well as within other header code. Meta tags help with cataloging items, such as books, music, or recipes. For example, a recipe would be cataloged according to the name, the ethnic origin, major ingredients, time of day it is commonly eaten (breakfast, lunch, snack, etc.), and the health impact it may have (low salt, high cholesterol, gluten free, etc.).

What makes a search engine different?

There are really thousands of search engines on the world wide web. We usually refer to the major ones, Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo, etc. You may wonder why you prefer one search engine over another? It could be number of reasons:

  • Q & A – Exactly that. You ask a question, and select enter in the search bar. Site links appear that are a potential solution to you inquiry. (ChaCha.com)
  • Keyword picks and highlights. You are able to enter a series of keywords that return the link results. (YouTube.com)
  • Natural Language Processing or Artificial Intelligence. NLP can be well trained voice recognition program that responds to the human voice. However, in this context, it is the logical ability to understand the natural flow of a question based on language it is spoken. A subset of responses split out and are returned in an attempt to answer the question. Most search engines focus on key words that exist within the question.Artificial Intelligence, is more complex. It is a computer language that usually has a combination of symbols, characters and numbers. The downfall to this type of technology is that it tends to return vague responses, grammar and spelling issues, as well as incomplete information.An example of how these work are you would type a question, with the aide of a chat box, and then a back and forth discussion can take place. Mostly a response woud appear, and you would select “Yes” meaning the response was correct” or “No” meaning, “I need another suggestion.” This could go on until an answer is found or the system confesses it didn’t find what you needed. I have found these to be slow, tedious and painstaking to work through. I think the technology is a great idea, I just don’t think it has reached its potential yet.
  • Industry Specific: Some search engines are geared toward specific trades or specialize in particular industries, such as pogofrog.com (search engine designed for physicians); business.com, hoovers.com or dailystocks.com (all business related search engines) or feedster.com (online shopping, by powered by Google).
  • Job Search Engines, such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and Idealist.com (unique to non-profit job searches). You would enter a profile of criteria, that would return results based on zip code radius, job skills, industry segment, and the amount of time a position has been posted on the boards.
  • Spider Sites or Webcrawlers. These types of search engines usually return results based on rankings from a simultaneous search from the larger search engines. YoMeta.com, Dogpile.com, and Indeed.com, are some examples.

What does someone look for in a search engine?

  • How it interfaces with the user. Is the criteria concise and simple to enter.
  • How easy it is to navigate.
  • Are the results clean and easy to read, with accurate and reliable links. Here is  where you want a reliable and top rated protection against viruses, malware, and spyware.
  • Is it fast?
  • Does it prioritize or mix advertisements in with my search results.
  • Does it have a lot of spam?
  • Does it track your search habits?
  • Does it customize, isolate, or filter the results based on your click history?

I personally find the last bullet interesting and disappointing. Because your click history is collected by the search engine, such as Google, and reflect what you tend to agree with or like. Therefore, results are prioritized based on what the search engine thinksyou will want to see for results. The logic, based on an algorithm, will either filter out or reduce the rank of other possible site results, meaning they will get pushed down on the list of returned links. However, my concern is where is the room for objectivity?

Conclusion

There you have it. You know what a search engine is, and how some of them work. The list is by no means comprehensive. I’m certain as the Internet continues to evolve many excellent ideas will present themselves. Even as you read this, someone is probably testing the next greatest technology. Who knows, maybe we will be able to think of a question in our head, and then our Iphone or Android will text us the answer. Wouldn’t that be something?

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