A History of Search Engines

A History of Search Engines

Today, search engines are a very big part of our daily lives. People use search engines to find out information, order their food, and access the websites they use to communicate with each other. This guide helps you learn more about search engines, where they came from, how they work, and what they will look like in the future. 

How Do Search Engines Work?

There are three main processes that enable search engines to work: crawling, indexing, and ranking.

1. Crawling

Search engines crawl the internet and look to sort or code all the content they find for any URL. Crawling is done by a team of robots, known as crawlers or spiders, which find and update search engines of new content and metadata. This content can be a webpage, image, video, or countless other formats.

2. Indexing

This is the process whereby search engines store and organize the information they have found in the previous step.

3. Ranking

Once the content has been crawled and indexed in a search engine’s database, they can begin the ranking process Pages are ranked in terms of relevance, authority, and quality to ensure users are always provided with the best appropriate answer to their query.

A Little History of Search Engines

  • The first search engine was created in 1990 and was called Archie Query Form. Since there was only limited space, site listings were provided, but no content was available.
  • In 1991 Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, created the Virtual Library. This helped internet users find the URLs of different websites.
  • In 1993 JumpStation was created; users saw a page’s title and header in search results for the first time.
  • Yahoo! was launched in 1994. It was the first collection of webpages from across the internet. 
  • In 1996 Google BackRub was created; the idea behind this process was to rank websites for improved search results. This concept bought about by this idea is still used today as the backbone for ranking search engine results.
  • Ask Jeeves was also created in 1996. The idea behind this search engine was to use human editors to respond to searches.
  • In 1998 Google was officially launched.
  • In 2004 Microsoft launched their new search engine, MSN.

A History of Search Engines

Since the first engines were launched, the companies that created the services have focused on improving their platforms for users. This can come mostly in the form of increasing usability and search engine rankings.

The Future of Search Engines

Search engines’ current trends have moved away from providing a means for users to access ranked information from across the internet and move into specific search results. Some of the most innovative and useful search engines currently in operation are dedicated to specific search queries. Examples of specific search engines include:

  • Octopart.com is a search engine designed for manufacturers, electricians, and tech gurus to find and compare materials.
  • Artcyclopedia is a search engine that is dedicated to finding all images, articles, and gallery listings of any artist’s work.
  • Ohmygodlol.com is a search engine designed to bring up humorous pictures from across the internet.

Search engines have evolved a great deal since the earliest examples in 1990. When it comes to the future of search engines, nothing is set in stone. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, search engines are going to continue to offer more advanced solutions for users. As the adoption of smartwatches, smart speakers, and mobile phones become a bigger part of our lives, search engines will have to adapt to the change in user devices.

About the Author: James Daniels

James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.


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