Search engines: Definition

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What is a search engine?

Since the advent of the web and personal computers, search engines have played a major role in the way we access information.

Today, it is almost unimaginable for many users to do without these tools, which make searching the Internet so much easier.

Find out here what these search engines are and what different types you can use.

What is a search engine?

What is a search engine?

A search engine is a computer tool that enables users to find information on the Internet. It works by indexing billions of web pages and ranking them according to their relevance to users' queries.

How does a search engine work?

  1. Exploration : Robots called "crawlers" crawl the web by following hypertext links from web pages that are already known. They discover new pages and add them to the search engine index.
  2. Indexation : The content of web pages is analysed and stored in the search engine index. This includes text, images, links and other relevant information.
  3. Request : When a user enters a query into the search engine, it analyses the keywords and expressions used to identify the most relevant web pages.
  4. Ranking: Indexed web pages are ranked according to their relevance to the user's query. Various complex algorithms take into account a number of factors, such as the quality of the content, the popularity of the site and the number of hits. website and keyword matching.
  5. Displaying results : The most relevant web pages are then displayed to the user in the form of a list of results. Users can then click on the links to access the web pages that interest them.

The different types of search engines

There are several types of search engine, each with its own characteristics and specific features. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the different types of engine you can use:

  1. General search engines

    These are the most popular and widely used search engines in the world. They index a wide range of websites and provide results covering various areas of expertise.

    These engines are often the first choice for most web users. Notable examples of generalist search engines include : Google, Bing and Yahoo.

  2. Specialist search engines

    These search engines offer a more targeted approach, focusing on a specific subject or field. As a result, they offer refined results tailored to the needs of experts and enthusiasts in a certain field.

    Some examples of specialist search engines include: Wolfram Alpha for scientific research, Joblift for job searches and Pexels for royalty-free images.

  3. Search directory

    Unlike traditional search engines, which automatically scan web pages, search directories index sites manually. The sites listed in these directories are generally classified by category and sub-category, making it much easier to navigate and find the information you are looking for quickly.

    Some directories are free, while others require payment to list your site. Examples of well-known search directories are : Dmoz and Yahoo Directory.

  4. Green search engines

    With the rise of environmental concerns, some search engines have positioned themselves as ecological alternatives to traditional search engines.

    What makes them special is that they devote a significant proportion - if not all - of their revenue to planting trees or funding various environmental projects. Two notable examples of ecological search engines are : Ecosia and Lilo.

  5. Private search engines

    Private search engines offer an extra level of confidentiality for users who want to protect their personal information.

    These engines generally do not store browsing data or search queries, and often use encryption systems to enhance Internet security. DuckDuckGoQwant and StartPage are among the leading privacy-focused search engines.

  6. Metasearch engines

    Finally, meta-search engines are a special type of search engine, as they use several search engines simultaneously to provide even more exhaustive and relevant results.

    They are therefore an interesting solution for those who want to have an overall view of the results available on different search engines. Among the metasearch engines working on this principle are Dogpile and WebCrawler.

A few tips for optimising your use of search engines

In practice, it is essential to choose your search engine carefully, depending on your needs and the type of information you are looking for. Here are a few tips to help you optimise your searches:

  • Use the right keywords to find the information you need more quickly.
  • Don't hesitate to use search operators (such as "+" or " ") to refine your results and exclude certain unnecessary terms.
  • Vary your sources by using several different search engines to obtain a diverse and representative range of results.
  • Finally, always remember to check the reliability of any information you find on the internet before using it, especially if it comes from sites that are not well-known or recognised by experts in the field.

So despite the rise of social networks and mobile applications, search engines are still the essential tools for accessing the web's various resources.

By knowing their definitionsBy taking advantage of the various types of search engine available, and by following a few good practices, you can maximise the efficiency of your online searches and find the information you need quickly.

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