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Search Engines, Keywords & Web Portals

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  • 0:06 Search Engines
  • 1:02 Web Portals
  • 1:30 Search Engine Components
  • 3:45 Boolean Operators
  • 5:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jill Heaney

Jill has taught college-level business and IT. She has a Doctorate in Business Administration and an M.S. in Information Technology & Leadership.

Search engines enable users to locate a vast amount of information on any topic quickly and conveniently through the Internet. Common search engines include Google, Yahoo, Bing, and AOL. The topics discussed in this lesson include search engines, Web portals, keywords, Boolean operators, spiders, search forms, database, and meta tags.

What are Search Engines?

What do you do when you have a question or need to locate information on a topic? If you are like most people, you turn to the Internet, or, more specifically, the World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked, hypertext documents accessed through the Internet that provides many resources and search tools. These search tools enable you to locate a vast amount of information quickly and conveniently. The World Wide Web has generated a large number of search engines. A search engine is a program that enables users to locate specific websites of information on the Internet based on keywords. Keywords are the descriptive terms used to find relevant information.

Abby wishes to locate information on obedience training for the new puppy she just brought home. She uses her favorite search engine, Google. Other search engines that can be used are Yahoo, Bing, AOL, and Ask.com. Abby enters the keywords 'dog training' into her search engine.

What is a Web Portal?

The search engine sends the query keywords to a server.
Search Engine Sends to Server

Abby could also conduct her search from a Web portal. A Web portal is a site that is used as a launching point for entering the Web. A portal includes a Web directory and search engine as well as other useful features, such as shopping directories, e-mail, file storage, games, and chat rooms. Many search engines are also Web portals. Some Web portals commonly used today are Yahoo, AOL, and MSN. Quite often, you will set your Web browser to open to the home page of a portal.

Components of a Search Engine

Search engines have three main components: the search form, database, and robot.

The search form is the component you will be most familiar with. The search form is the interface in which you type a word or phrase you wish to search. It is comprised of a text box and a submit button. The search form is where Abby would enter the keywords 'dog training.' The keywords typed into the search engine are sent to a server that searches the database. Remember that a server is a computer connected directly to the Internet in which data can be stored and accessed.

A database is an organized collection of information that can be accessed, managed, and updated. The results page of a Web search will display information that has been accessed from the database. The database is populated with information gathered from a robot.

A robot, also called a bot, crawler, or spider, is used to navigate the Web by following hyperlinks for the purpose of indexing Web content and storing webpages. A bot, or spider, crawls around the Web looking for new pages or updates to add to the search engine's index. The spider will collect meta tag keywords and descriptions to add to the database. Meta tags are part of the HTML code of a webpage. They provide specific information about the webpage to the browser; however, meta tags cannot be seen when you access a webpage. Their purpose is to serve as informants to the spiders. Meta tags are used by search engines to index webpages.

Meta tags in the HTML code help spiders mine information from webpages.
Meta Tag Code Example

The index stores all of the information collected by the spider so that it can be found as quickly as possible. Large search engines will likely have multiple spiders working simultaneously. These spiders collect and index hundreds of millions of webpages in order to respond to the millions of searches performed each day.

Abby's search compiles a list of information and Uniform Resource Locators (or URLs) for webpages that meet the criteria specified. This list is called the result set. The result set often contains the link to each page, page title, description, and even the first few lines of text of the page. The search is complete when the search engine results page is sent to the browser and displayed on the monitor.

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