Introduction to Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization refer to how to make your website visible on its content to search engines. Currently, the most popular search engines are Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, Naver but there are many others. In fact everything depends of which database you would like to query. According to the database you are querying you will need to understand how the search engine is working behind.

For example if your are a university researcher and you would like your work to be more visible within the internal search engine of your faculty, you will then try to understand how this specific search engine is working in order to make your content more visible.

Most of courses you will find out there are explaining how to do search engine optimization on what I call "public & popular" search engines, this course won't be an exception.

Before starting explaining what is search engine optimization in details, let's explain a little bit why they became so popular.

How search engines came on the table?

Back in the 90s many people started to create interesting websites with valuable information on it. The main issue was always the same thing, how can I make my website known? There were of course special magazines listing the greatest discoveries but you were always dependent from those papers. This is where a type of websites came out "directories". Which were nothing more than a list of urls of websites ordered by categories. That was great because it meant that people just needed to remember one website in order to know what were all the other websites available publicly on the internet.

Find above the famous Yahoo Directory

Unfortunately, directories were difficult to browse because they resulted in many clicks to access to the website of our choice (moreover it is always complicated to list a website in just one category, to decide if website owner need to pay a fee to be listed, it is hard to maintain such directory...).

One directory who was very famous in the old days was the Yahoo directory, but now it does not exist any longer (though you may still find some pictures about it on

You may still found here and there some directories but it is really more for niche market when the information from the websites cannot be accessible easily by robots.

As directories were too rigid some smart people decided to create some technologies called search engines. You then had the possibility to enter some search terms and to get a website corresponding to this search.

Now you know why search engines are so popular. They are the most flexible way to access an information on the internet. To this game, this is where Google succeeded really well. As you can imagine when a search is performed, results are getting out of it, and the more efficient you are in answering properly of the request, the more users you are going to get.

They mainly succeeded in their old times thanks an algorithm named "Page rank" which gave an indicator of how "popular" a website is compared to others which made its results far better than any competitors.

Nowadays Google is by far the most popular search engine for many reasons, just to name a few:

  • Lots of R&D invested, Google was launched in 1994.
  • They have multiple offices all other the world in order to understand the languages and the different cultures.
  • Many users, so a lot of data to improve its results. Data is king in digital marketing.
  • Getting a lot of data from many services: Google Home, Google Maps, Google Ads, Google Analytics, Google Drive, Android devices...
  • The biggest database. A lot of machines to provide an efficient service.

As Google is getting a lot of data about their users you can imagine how much it knows about them and how powerful it is.

Note though that most of the time Google is mentioned as the de facto search engine, but you have to imagine that some markets/countries do not see from a good eye. That's typically the case for the following markets:

  • Russia, mainly using Yandex services.
  • China, mainly using Baidu services.
  • South Korea, mainly using Naver services.

Ok, so now you know why search engines are the most popular tools to browse the web, let's look a little bit more in details how do they work.

Last modified: Thursday, 6 August 2020, 12:19 PM