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Search Engines

Search Engines quickly find the most relevant information and resources from the vast amount of information throughout the internet.

Search Engines typically display results in order of importance and relevance to the search terms supplied. And due to the sheer amount of information available, Search Engines have become the fastest way for people to research and purchase products and services online.

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Google is the undoubted market leader, responsible for an estimated 87% of searches made in the UK. In the US search engine market, Google is only slightly less dominant with around a 68% share. (Source: Hitwise Google's popularity largely comes from its simple and easy-to-use design, fast and accurate results, and its separation of natural and sponsored listings. An indication of its dominance is that the verb 'to google' has been added to the Merriam Webster and Oxford English dictionaries.

Although Google is free to use, and does not charge to list websites, Google does generate an enormous income from its pay-per-click advertising model, Google AdWords. The revenue of Google UK from AdWords is already higher than the advertising revenue of Channel 4, and it is expected that Google UK will soon eclipse ITV as Britain's largest recipient of advertising revenue.

Other Major Search Engines

Other important Search Engines include Yahoo! Search, Live Search (formerly MSN Search), and (formerly Ask Jeeves). Although these Search Engines have a smaller market share than Google, they are still profitable sources of web traffic. It is worth remembering that the Yahoo! and Live Search Engines are displayed prominently when people log out of the popular Yahoo! Mail or Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail email services.

Although Google is the most important Search Engine, it is worth bearing in mind that certain rivals have greater popularity in particular countries. For example, Baidu [] is China's leading Search Engine.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search Engines are some of the most powerful and complex computer systems in existence today, combining advanced software programs with vast arrays of computers. Search Engines essentially fulfil three functions: spidering, indexing and sorting.

A Search Engine Spider is a program that automatically reads web pages and follows links to other pages on the same or on different sites. Spiders will revisit your website periodically to check for updated content.

The Search Engine Index essentially contains a copy of every page found by the Spiders, though this is stored in a specially compressed form in order to make it easier to search through. Many Search Engines allow you to view a cached copy of pages that have been recently added to their index.

Finally, the sorting phase takes place when you actually submit a search. Studies indicate that between 25% and 50% of search phrases are unique, and so Search Engines need to be able to respond appropriately to any search phrase in less that a second.

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