How to use the Internet?  Search Engines is our solution!

Have you ever needed answers to your questions? Answers to fulfill a specific purpose, like, ‘how to bake banana bread’ to bring to Grandma’s house next visit? – the obvious answer is yes! Because here you are finding the answers on how to use the internet!

The simple answer is Search Engines! That was what you used to get to this page.

Woman using Google search engine on iPad (Photo by William Iven on Pixels)

What is a Search Engine?

The internet is our information bank. There are billions of websites on the Internet and many more that are being added every day, it can be very daunting to navigate the internet. Search engines is our internet map, it efficiently searches the internet for answers that match our enquiry, helping people find information quickly.

The following list are a few examples of popular search engines:

  1. Google
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo
  4. com
  5. Baidu

How it works?

Search engines allows for a quick search to answer your queries through the use of keywords. These keywords can refer to broad topics or be very specific such as technical terminologies that help guide the process of retrieving a collection of relevant documents (Baeza-Yates, Hurtado & Mendoza, 2004).

Internet Transformation – evolution of search engines

Genesis of search engines

Archie (1990)

  • A simple search engine tool that allowed people to search for specific files
  • It created a searchable database by indexing file lists of all public File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites.
  • Though, it organized files and websites of the internet. The indexing of files was limited to only the title of the file.

WebCrawler (1994)

  • The solution to Archie’s limitation; this new search engine could now index the content of the files and webpages.
  • The indexing of the sites extended to every word of the file, instead of just the title.
  • Limitations: hackers and online spammers

Google (1998)

  • Understood the setbacks of the existing search engines and saw this as an opportunity to create a user-friendly search engine that would provide oriented results.
  • Google’s approach consisted of embedding algorithms to assist in pinpointing relevant resources while predicting the type of resources that might satisfy your query based on your search patterns and history.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was introduced to improve webpage rankings by prioritizing the most relevant, high quality and interesting websites higher up on search rankings.
  • SEO follows the process of redeveloping and highlight keywords on webpages to effectively synchronise matches with the search engines.

Check this detailed summary and timeline of the evolution of search engines, find out the progression of information technology and information management!

Google takes the search engine throne

Animation of Google by Mohamed Hasen on Pixels

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Search ranking contribute a huge role in webpage traffic. According to people’s search pattern, majority only end up visiting webpages on the first page of the search result.
  • This creates competition for the webpage creators to list their webpage high on the search ranks.
  • Online businesses are impacted and demand a solution to increase website traffic.
  • Here, Google seizes another game changing opportunity by introducing Pay Per Click (PPC)!

 Pay Per Click

  • An effective marketing strategy
  • Advertisers owe Google a fee each time their ads are clicked.
  • It follows a bidding strategy system – meaning, Google would rank the PPC result in accordance with bid prices. There is also a quota for the number of ads for PPC results, thus, only the top bidders would find win Google ads.
  • The bid prices vary and are largely dependent on keyword popularity and the competition of bidders (basically, demand and supply), thus, the more the keyword demand, the higher the bid price (Brick Marketing, n.d)
  • While PPC is easily the best online marketing strategy, it is controversial as it creates search engine inequality.

What it has become?

To search every finds by the sides by trying to determine the best match to show first. The search engine may need to guess what you are searching for. It will use its algorithm to rank the pages that things that you might want. It might be ranked based on whether the search title is listed in other website titles, or the sequence of keywords. Google search engine is the most popular because it also ranks searches based on the number of other websites that are linked to a particular page. The premise to that is many other websites and link to one, that must indicate that it is a probably a good match to what you are searching for.

The drawback for the page rank is named after, Larry Page, is that spammers are trying to get their websites ranked higher because websites receive more money when it is visited more often. By having their webpages listed higher in the search results this ensures that they are paid more. Hence, search engines regularly update via algorithms to avoid fake and websites that are untrustworthy to reach the higher ranks.

SO who else benefits?

  • YOU and ME! Can you imagine having to spend hours to find the delivery number of McDonalds? Yes, that would be painful and you would probably just give up. Search engines saves us so much time, enabling us to find out exactly what we need or want to find out in just one easy step. We simply just type our queries in the search engine to generate the answers we are looking for.
    • Efficient
    • Reliable
    • Free
    • Easy
  • Businesses – Many companies want to ensure that their websites appear prominently. Companies may adopt SEO techniques to increase their chances on having high search ranks to improve their flow of traffic to their websites. Alternatively, companies may resort to paid advertisements (Pay Per Click) for their websites to be noticed.
    • Pay to be noticed

Who suffers?

  • YOU and ME!
    • Cognitive Health – Did you know that because people have become heavily dependent on computers to off load our memories, that scientist now claim that search engines are to blame for causing poor memory retention. According to study “Google effects on memory”, claim that our ability to retain information without the reliance of search engines has declined.
    • Scams! – There is always a chance that sponsored ads or webpages that has spyware and scams. They can be operated by people who also send out spams. Some of these pages can steal personal information and exploit your browser.
    • Search Engine Bias – Google may have their political, economic, cultural views, opinions, values that they uphold that might skew the way the webpages are ranked. The search rankings may be biased without us even realizing to subtly brainwash users with views they support.
  • Businesses
    • No guarantees! – Resorting to Pay Per Click has its success stories. However, there are no guarantees! Whilst costly to businesses, it does not necessarily yield the best returns because many people tend to avoid ads.
    • Inequality (net neutrality)  – It is definitely not cheap! Small start ups will suffer from this disadvantage. This stirs the controversial topic on net neutrality and online equality.

With that, i think it is important to understand the limitations and cost the search engines brings to us. However, without a doubt, the advantages of the search engines outweighs the disadvantages.

The internet is a resourceful place only if you can effectively search for the resources you seek. In other words, the search engine is essential for the operation of the internet. Hence, we ought to be thankful of the genesis of search engines for making the retrieval of information online easy and accessible!

Reference lists:

1) Baeza-Yates, R., Hurtado, C., & Mendoza, M. (2004, March 14). Query Recommendation Using Query Logs in Search Engines. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

2) Dixon, C. (2011, May 16). Why Google Succeeded Where Other Search Engines Failed. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

3) Short History of Early Search Engines. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

4) Shedden, D. (2017, March 02). Today in media history: The first Internet search engine is released in 1990. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

5) Gunjan, V. K., P., Kumari, M., Kumar, A., Dr, & Rao, A. A., Dr. (206). Search engine optimization with Google. Search Engine Optimization with Google,9(1), 3rd ser., 1-206. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

6) Vernon, B. (9). The Utilization of Manual ad Automated PPC Bidding Strategies in the B2C Ecommerce Sector. The Utilization of Manual Ad Automated PPC Bidding Strategies in the B2C Ecommerce Sector,6(1), 70-79. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

7) Stieben, D. (2013, May 20). The Archie Search Engine – The World’s First Search! Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

8) Spring, T. (2006, May 26). Net Watchdog: The Dangerous Side of Search Engines. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

9) Sparrow, B., Liu, J., & Wegner, D. M. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at our Fingertips. Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips,776-778. doi:10.1126/science.1207745

10) Young, R. D. (2011, July 20). How Google Impacts Our Memory. Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

11) Encrypt, S. (2018, September 26). What is Search Neutrality? Is Your Search Engine Biased? Retrieved October 12, 2018, from

About nicolelamm 2 Articles
Bachelor of Laws (LLB)/Bachelor of Arts at University of Sydney Major in Digital Cultures Singapore

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