What is a Search Engine (Definition)? | How Search Engine Works?

In this article, we are going to take a look into what a search engine and how it works. The main goals for this article are going to be understanding search engine, how it works, top search engines in the market and how does the search engine works and how does it add websites to its database?

Search Engine Definition:

This is how I would define a search engine:

It is a platform where you can search for something you want to learn more about it and it will present you with the relevant information it has from its database.

That sounds simple, right? Just like a web directory or phone directory, but the main reason it is complicated is their database, the search engine database is the Internet, World Wide Web (www). Let’s take a look at more information to understand the complexity:

    1. More than 1.1 billion Web sites exist on the Internet. You can just imagine the number of Web pages there must be.
    2. Search the engine contains at least 5.5 billion indexed Web page pages.
    3. Google alone processes more than 40K search queries per second. That’s almost 3.5 billion a day.

Potential Problem Search Engine Face:

So, you can just imagine some of the potential problems to search engines, such as:

    • How do Do we find all the Web pages on the Internet?
    • How do Do we store all the Web page information on our database?
    • How do Do we find and retrieve data from our database for a search query?
    • In what order should be displayed?
    • How to present the results for a great user experience?
    • And what is the best way to manage all the users effectively & simultaneously?

A search engine has to find a way to answer all these questions in order to be effective.

How Does Search Engine Works?

So, the process is very complicated. But to give you all the necessary idea for you, I have tried to simplify this process so you can get a better understanding. The process contains five different steps:

    1. A user goes into a search engine.
    2. User searches for something on the search engine.
    3. The search engine scans its database.
    4. With the help of a machine and human guidelines, it tries to find the best search results.
    5. Finally, the user is presented with an accurate set of results for is his/her query. 

So, that is the overall process of how it works.

Search Engine Market Share:

Now let’s take a look into the search engine market share. This is really important because when we look at the market share data, this is as of 2021:

    • Google owns 91.86%
    • Bing follows that with 2.71% (You can see the differencebetween the first and second position)
    • Yahoo has 1.46%
    • Baidu, which is a local Chinese search engine, 1.13%
    • Yandex is a local Russian based search engine, which has 0.087%
    • DuckDuckGo is a privacy-based search engine that has 0.66%

So, with data from that chart, it’s really clear that Google is the king of search engines. It is because they have found a way to best answer all the problems which are faced by search engines. And as well as you search for some stats, Google search engine received 88.36 billion visits on to 2019. Google Index or database contains hundreds of billions of pages. Since Google is the market leader and most of the market is going to be sitting on. It makes sense to concentrate more of our SEO efforts on that.

So, in the coming articles, also, I will be primarily focusing on Google, but on other search engines, which also worth considering are Bing and Yahoo. They share their database and also any Microsoft devices or Microsoft operating system’s default search engine Bing since it’s owned by them. So, it also makes sense to secondarily optimize our Web page for these two search engines also.

How Does Search Engine Add New Website?

So now let’s quickly see how do search engines add a new website to their database or index. This is also a very complicated process, but I have tried to give an eagle view of the basic components behind it. It consists of crawling, indexing, and serving. Now, let’s take a look at one by one:


First crawling in this process, search engine and use automated apps that continually search for all the web-pages on the Internet, also known as the World Wide Web (www). These automated programs are called web spiders or search crawlers. There are several ways search engines gather information about Web pages, but the most common ones are by following links from Web pages that are already known to them, which are already in their database.


The second stage is indexing in this stage search engine visits all the Web pages which is found through the crawling stage and content on that Webpages, including text, images, videos, and more will be analysed to determine the topic of the page and catalogue it so they can be easily retrieved when needed. All this information will be stored or known as cached in the database, also known as a search index.

Serving The Search Results:

The final step is serving the search results. This happens when a person searches for something or when he/she type a particular search query on a search engine. The search engine will display the most relevant and best set of results from their database (index).

The best search results will be determined by several factors, including searcher location, language preference, device of the searcher, search engine algorithms also known as search rules and guidelines, user intent, and SEO competition, and a lot more.


So, in conclusion, in this article, we learned what is a search engine and understood the complexity behind it. And also, we found the top three search engines in the market. And also, we looked into how the search engine works and they add new websites to their database.

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