Search engines are like mystical boxes. We throw in a question and receive an answer. They are the salvation for those who are always using web-search. They are also the cause of headaches for those who value their privacy.
We use them everyday when we surf the web — some people more than others. One thing is for sure, they make life in terms of finding stuff on the web, much, much easier. What makes one good for some people, and another one better for others? Most importantly, some technically interested people would argue, how does it work?
What does a search engine do?
Well, among other things it helps us find websites, images, and information on the Internet.
How does it work?
A search engine does what it does, in three simple steps.
First up is a step called “crawling” — it does sound rather strange because the Internet has no extremities. During the crawling step the search engine looks for content.
Second up is “indexing.” This is the step where the huge amount of data retrieved from the web while “crawling” is sorted out into a list.
The third and final step is the so-called “ranking and retrieval.” This is the step that you are most familiar with when you enter a search term into your favorite search engine. It is now that the search engine will display “the most relevant documents it finds” that match what you entered.
So if all search engines work this way, what makes them different from one another?
The information business
Believe it or not, something as intangible as information can make huge bucks on the information market.
Marketing agencies use it, advertising companies thrive of of it, money markets are moved by it, and decisions are made on the base of it — information!
What does any of this have to do with anyone using a search engine? That’s the part where it gets interesting!
Many people have no idea how much of their personal information is stored, and for how long.
Tailored search results
One problem that many encounter when they use search engines that save your search history and pitch you search results according to what they believe you might like, is that the scope of your search results shrinks vastly. The conclusion: Don’t just end on page one of your search results, skim further onto page 7, 9, or 11.
Why one search engine over the other?
Some people just don’t like the idea of a constant surveillance when they use the Internet. The question of privacy is often raised when it comes to the Internet, surveillance, and information. Others use search engines that give them the best results, or the “biggest bang for their keyword.”
Some just prefer to use a search engine that is not used by so many others, these are then the users that make up the numbers of those not so commonly used search engines.
The top 5 search engines
Ranking as the number one used search engine in the world, Google is a no-brainer for anyone who searchs the web. Google owns almost 70 percent of the search engine market, according to netmarketshare.
Bing ranks second when it comes to search engine market shares. Some like Bing because of its usability and the quality of its search results.
“First of all, it provides me with much more accurate results than Google. Sometimes I can find what I’m looking for on the first page of Bing, whereas it might be on the second or third page of Google,” according to 17 year-old Student, Nic Davis.
Baidu, Yahoo, and the rest
Those who like the search-result-punch of Google with the privacy of DuckDuckGo will definitely appreciate Startpage. Basically Startpage submits a search to Google (without submitting your information), and returns the results to you. This makes searches conducted with Startpage basically anonymous, because all that Google sees are searches coming from Statpage’s servers, and not from individuals.
Besides these search engines there are alot more. So, really, the best thing is to try them all out, and see which one works the best for your own personal needs.