How do they work? | Top Search Engines | Search Engine Features | Tricks of the Trade |
5 Things Never To Do | Resource Links | References | Contact | Home | CarrieBeth.com
 
Search Engine vs. Directory
Generally, the term "search engine" is used to describe both true search engines and directories, although there is a very important difference between them. A search engine is a computer that cruises the web and automatically creates their listings. A directory, such as Yahoo!, is human-powered. Directories depend on individuals to go through every site that is submitted by hand and list those web sites that it deems "worthy". (This also means that if you do not submit your site to that directory, you will not get listed.)

The Spider
Now that we've made that difference, let's talk about how search engines work. Search engines have what is calles a spider, or crawler, that goes from URL to URL (based on IP address - i.e. 10.0.0.1). If a web site resides at that URL or IP address, the spider will read the HTML not only on the first page, but every page of the site including external links.

Indexing
While the spider is visiting all the pages of your site, it is taking with it valuable information about your site. The spider will come back to your web site periodically to see if anything has changed since its last visit to index new changes. There is debate as to whether or not the spider will visit more frequently if it knows you update on a regular basis or visit less frequently if your site doesn't change often. To be on the safe side, assume it checks back on a regular basis...or update your site frequently!

Listing Your Site
Search engines also need software with which they are able to sift through their millions of indexed web sites to find what the user is searching for and display it back to them. Now, remember, this software doesn't know exactly what you want when you search. If gives you a "best guess" estimate of sites it thinks you want. We all know it's made mistakes before. But it tries real hard!

 
How do they work? | Top Search Engines | Search Engine Features | Tricks of the Trade |
5 Things Never To Do | Resource Links | References | Contact | Home | CarrieBeth.com
© 1999-2000 CarrieBeth.com