Search engines are tools that are widely used to search information on the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web is the most single important source of information in the 21st century, and users search for such information through the use of search engines. Search engines are regarded as the best search tools that can query the World Wide Web for pertinent information, which are then presented to users as search results (Babin & Weiss, 2009). Search engine technology is at the kernel of web search as it allows search engines to locate information in the internet, index them and serve them to users who query them. This paper will address the origin of the search engine technology; evaluate its benefits and disadvantages, not to mention highlighting on various competitors using this technology.
Origins of search engine technology
Today, search engine technology, has gained significant milestones in the technology arena because of some historical development in technology. The search engine technology has evolved to a position where it has transformed how information in retrieved in the internet. The first search engine is believed to be the information retrieval systems that were used by the International Business Machines back in the 1950s. Luhn was in charge of developing this technology while he was working with IBM. Search techniques were later improved in the 1970s by refining them further. The concepts and technological processes used by the IBM have since been used as the background for search engine technology.
The advances that had been made in the search systems were the background for the search engine technology. With the birth of the World Wide Web, the stage was set for the search engine technology that would later be used to power search engines such as Google (Gay, Charlesworth & Esen, 2007). In 1990, the HTTP programming language was developed and it led to the development of a small program called Archie. This program was written for the purpose of retrieving information from the internet. Whereas Archie was limited in its functions, it was able to provide basic search for the internet users at that time.
The success of archie sparked immense interest in the search technology with new search programs being developed. Wandex a Web search software called was built to capture uniform resource locators in the World Wide Web and index them in a database. This program was followed by a robot called WebCrawler, which then became a search engine that would be the first to enter the search market. This background thus provided a launching pad for the success of various search engine products that improved on the initial search engine technology that were already in place.
How search engine technology works
Before looking at how search engines work, it is essential to mention what search engine technologies do. Search engine technology allows users to search information over the World Wide Web. The search engine technology searches the information on the internet and archives them in order to serve them when users request for them (Levene, 2010). Because of what they do, search engines have built indexes of information that are found on the World Wide Web.
The role of the search engine is accomplished as a result of how search engine technology works. According to Babin and Weiss (2009), search engine technology relies on robots that crawl on the World Wide Web in search of information. With the World Wide Web made of websites that are on the increase, robots continue to collect and index information into databases. These indexes are often updated and used to provide users with information according to the keywords that are used during the search. The search engines use the search engine technology to collect the address of information in the internet by analyzing their title and their uniform resource locator. Other information such as Meta data are also analyzed to determine what is contained in the web pages, which are then indexed in a database. When a user makes a search using a preferred search engine, the keywords used in the search are compared to what has been indexed in the database. Relevant information is then served to the users. All search engines do no use robots or crawlers. Some search engines use indexes that are entered by human, but it still works like the rest of the search engines. By serving a web page to a user, search engines have changed made location of information be easy on the World Wide Web.
Benefits and disadvantages of search engine technology
The search engine technology has made use of search engines possible. Nonetheless, the use of search engines, which are powered by search engine technology, has a mix of advantage and disadvantages.
There are several advantages of search engine technology that have popularized their use as tools for locating information on the World Wide Web. These advantages are:
a) Search engine technology provides an efficient way of indexing information on the World Wide Web. With the World Wide Web having a vast amount of information, the use of search engine technology provides an effective way of organizing information. Because of this advantage, it is possible to represent the vast information available on the World Wide Web.
b) Search engine technology allows information to be described with precision. When locating the information on the World Wide Web, search engine technology provides users with means to describe information in keywords that helps in locating information that are relevant to the users.
c) Search engine technology allows the World Wide Web to be organized more effectively that it appears. With search engines that use the search engine technologies, it has been possible to organize the World Wide Web into a structure that can allow information to be located when need arise.
Despite the advantages of search engine technology, there as several disadvantages that are associated with this technology. These disadvantages are:
a) The search engine technology can produce endless list of information that have little relevance to the users. For instance, searching for some keywords can yield thousands of web results that are not relevant all.
b) The use of search engines can be discouraging for first-time users. This is because users have to learn how to generate effective search results when using these tools. Being that some users find this process tedious, some people may feel that this technology is cumbersome.
Major competitors in the marketplace
Despite the challenges of developing search engine technologies, there are many technology firms that have entered the market with novel search engines. These firms are increasingly developing cutting edge solution that provides many corporate firms, organization and individuals with search solutions. In the search engine arena, there are many competitors such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, All the Web, and AltaVista just to name a few. Google is considered the most used search engine given its focus on relevant results. Bing is owned by Microsoft and is touted to have a large search share after Google and Bing (McCormick, 2010). These competitors have strived to create novel solutions that are aimed at edging out their competitors. For instance, Google has been praised for using the least approach to searching of data and presenting the search results in a relevant way. AltaVista has also adopted this approach.
Apart from Google, Yahoo is one of the popular search engine technologies available today. Since its establishment, Yahoo has grown into a search engine that boast of one of the largest search index in place. A few years ago, Microsoft Corporation expressed interest in buying Yahoo, but it offered a lower bid (McCormick, 2010). Nonetheless, Yahoo has continued to be a preference for many people because of its variety.
When Microsoft failed to acquire Yahoo, the firm decided to engineer a new search engine—Bing. The unveiling of Bing took the search technology to a new level as Google and Yahoo vowed to enhance their service better. The presence of these competitors has made the search technology continue to growing into new heights.