Search engines are software systems that search the World Wide Web in a systematic way for particular information specified by a textual web search query. These searches are often referred to as search engine results pages (SERPs). A search engine can find documents, images, infographics, blogs, research papers, articles and other types of files.
While Google is by far the most popular search engine, there are many other different search engines that all have their own pros and cons. Understanding how search engines work and how they use certain techniques to provide users with the best possible results can help a site optimize its content and improve its rankings.
Basic Search Techniques
A good search engine will return results that are relevant to your specific needs and give you the information you need in a timely manner. However, it is important to understand that your results are only as good as the information you supply. Remember the old acronym GIGO, garbage in, garbage out. If you type in a search term that is too broad or ambiguous, you may receive results that are unrelated to your needs and that will take a long time to scan.
To improve the results of your searches, you can add a few simple search terms and operators to your search string. For example, using the plus operator (+) will tell the database to include words that are typically ignored. The tilde operator (
You can also use boolean operators to focus your search and connect different pieces of information together. The most common boolean operators are AND, OR and NOT. AND is a must if you are searching for something that contains multiple keywords. For example, cloning AND humans AND ethics will produce more focused results than just cloning OR humans OR ethics.
OR and NOT are useful when searching for alternative word meanings or to exclude certain words. You can also narrow your search by including a numeric range. For example, a search for adversity | reversal will return more focused results than just reversal.
Some niche search engines operate as directories for particular types of content. These typically don’t crawl the entire Internet but they still rank highly for certain queries. These search engines require a different set of tactics than general search engines to achieve high rankings. These include listing management, which is the process of claiming, verifying and optimizing your content across all platforms where it appears online. It also includes social media marketing and optimization, which involves promoting your brand on any and all social networks. Lastly, it requires reputation and authority building to rank high for your brand’s related terms. All of these are outside the scope of this article, but it is important to know about them so that you can be confident that your content is appearing in the most relevant places. This helps to avoid penalties that can be applied by search engines.