What is a search engine?

A search engine is a tool used to find data based on specific input. An example is a web search engine, where you enter words or phrases to find web pages that match those terms.

Not every web search engine works the same way, but most are crawler-based, meaning they actively search the web for pages to add to their index. Search engines are used to quickly find information from indexes and display the results on a page.

Search engines are the primary method of browsing the web, and there are a variety of search engines built to find specific information. There are usually advanced search options in every search engine to better focus your search and help you find what you are looking for.

Although web search engines are often used interchangeably, they are different from web directories and web browsers.

Search engines automatically create listings of websites using software commonly known as "spiders" or "spiderbots ," which "crawl" web pages. They follow links to other pages on the website and index the information in the process.

The crawler robots behind search engines scour the web not only by jumping from one link to the next, but also by checking each site for a robots.txt file. This file contains a list of which pages on your website should be crawled by search engines. This is a way for website owners to prevent search engines from indexing specific pages.

Software spiders regularly return to crawled pages to check for updates and changes, and anything they find is returned to the search engine database.

Every search engine is different, but the idea common to all search engines is to type something into the search box and wait for results. Some search engines also have reverse search options that allow you to browse the web using content other than text, such as sound clips or picture files.

Many search engines include additional features beyond a simple search box. They allow you to interact with the index using special text commands or buttons that filter the results and remove items that are not relevant to what you are looking for.

For example, there are many advanced Google search commands you can use to get better search results from Google.

Many search engines exist, so deciding which search engine you should use depends on the specific type of content you are looking for and how you want to find it.

  • Web search engines: often have a variety of uses, they can find a variety of data, from general web pages and news to help documents, online games, and often more like images, videos, and files.
  • Image search engine: Search for photos, drawings, clipart, wallpapers, and more.
  • Video search engine: Find music videos, news videos, live broadcasts, and more.
  • People Search Engine: Find people on the Internet using names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and more.
  • Mobile search engine: A regular search engine optimized for searching and displaying results on smaller screens.
  • Job Search Engine: Find job postings.
  • Invisible Web Search Engine: A tool for browsing the invisible web.

No need to manually update search engines to get the latest search results. If you're seeing really old results and suspect they should be updated, you may just need to clear your browser's cache.

Search engines don't search the entire web. There is a large part of the web that search engines cannot crawl, and they are collectively called the invisible/deep web.

Search engines find web pages on their own, so you usually don't need to tell it to index your site or add specific pages to its database. However, search engines may not crawl a specific web page for a number of reasons.

Some search engines include a tool that allows you to explicitly request that they check a page and add it to their index so that others can find it. Google's URL inspection tool is one example.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a practice implemented by web content authors to compete with similar content found through search engines. Search engines use specific algorithms to rank web pages, so one of the goals of online content authors is to ensure that the page accurately reflects the topic. This is usually done by targeting specific but still relevant keywords or phrases.

Since search engines crawl the web, the goal of website owners is often to get more inbound links so that crawlers can find the page faster and monitor the page for changes more frequently.

The web browser can point you directly to the search engine from the address bar at the top of the app. Just enter something there to see the results. However, although you only use a search tool with this method, you can always access the site directly yourself (for example, if you want to use the site, go to Startpage's home page). Alternatively, most browsers allow you to choose a different search engine to use; for example, you can change the default search engine in Chrome.

Technically, a search engine is a tool for searching other content. By this definition, many websites include a search engine in the form of a simple search bar where you enter a word or two to find relevant content on that particular website. Anyone can add search options to their website, but they are not the same as the web search engines described on this page.