The Search Engine Information Site
The internet really wouldn't be what it is today if it were not for the development of the search engine. There are billions of websites how would you find what you were looking for if there was no Google. Search engine are really one of the most important developments in history and really should be better understood than they are.
The first thing that needs to be clear is just what a search engine is, obviously they help people to find information on the web but there is more to it than that. Basically there are three criteria that must be met to qualify as a search engine. The first is that it must use a robot to crawl the web. That is the sites need to be found automatically and not require human input. The second criteria is that the search engine needs to create a database of sites based on what it has found during the crawl. And third there must be a way to search that database.
Search engines have come a remarkably long way in a very short time. The first search engines could only index the title of the site and that was the only thing that you had to go on when you were doing a search. Later the search engines were able to index the whole text of the document which greatly expanded the search capabilities. However the problem remained that there was no way to rank the sites in terms of relevance or quality, basically the search results displayed sites based on how many times the search term appeared in the document. This led to a great deal of manipulation; anybody who has been doing internet marketing since the early days surely remembers keyword stuffing.
The next big step forward came when Google appeared on the scene. Most people quickly came to realize that they got better results when they searched with Google but often weren't sure why. The reason is that Google made an effort to rank sites based on quality and relevance and not just based on the number of times that the keyword appeared. Over the years the way that they do this has changed as they have refined their algorithm to improve the results.
Once Google appeared they quickly came to dominate the search engine market and they have continued to do so to this day. In large part the reason that they can do this is that they are constantly striving to improve their search results. They are helped a great deal in this by the fact that they have more money to spend on research than their competitors. The result is that their lead has actually gotten bigger. The good news for searchers however is that the search results that we can get are much better than they were just a few years ago.