How does a search engine work?

Internet search engines are like computerized card catalogs at libraries. Viewed through a Web browser with an Internet connection, they provide a hyperlinked listing of locations on the World Wide Web according to the requested keyword or pattern of words submitted by the searcher. Search engines use computer software called “spiders” or “bots” to search out, inventory, and index Web pages automatically.

The spiders scan each Web page’s content for words and the frequency of words, then stores that information in a database. When the user submits words or terms, the search engine returns a list of sites from the database and ranks them according to the relevancy of the search terms.