Someone asked you to look for something online but you do not even know where to start? Here we will explain to you what a search engine is.


In the context of technologies used on the Internet, a search engine, sometimes called search engine, is a software system designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. The search results are generally represented in the form of an ordered list, often referred to as the search engine results page or, simply, SERP.
The information obtained through a search engine can be a mixture of pages, images, videos, infographics, articles, documents, and other types of files. To classify the results obtained, the appropriate algorithms are used that control, for example, how many times the keywords are repeated, how many links a specific document receives, in which points on the page are placed the keywords, or how many times a user has visited a specific site after a search.
Typical examples of search engines are GoogleBingBaiduQwantYandex and DuckDuckGo. In addition to the classic search engines, there are also search engines specialized only in a specific sector such as, for example, prices, flights, hotels, jobs, and so on.


A search engine basically works in three different phases:

  • in the first phase, it analyzes the field of interest through special software called crawlers;
  • in the second phase, it performs a cataloging of the material obtained during the first phase, adding or not the pages of interest in a special database through an indexing procedure;
  • in the third phase, it responds to queries of the users, which are carried out through one or more keywords, listing the results in order of relevance with respect to the request received.

In practice these three phases are performed almost in real time, returning the relevant results to the user’s browser in a fraction of a second.


To use any search engine you just need to connect to the URL of your favorite search engine and look for what you’re interested in by entering one or more appropriate terms. For example, to find relevant results on how to prepare pizza, once connected for example on Google, just type something like how to make pizza at home or how to make pizza.
Generally, a search engine also allows you to do other operations such as, for example, to exclude or not possible results, to filter the geographical area, to specify a time interval, to select the type of results, or other things of this kind, also giving the possibility to refine their research through the use of particular symbols and/or words. In addition, a search engine can also be integrated into your favorite browser, allowing you to search directly from the address bar of the browser itself.

So, at this point, you should have finally understood what a search engine is.


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