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Search Engines, Search Rank and Crawlers

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine isnot just a web ‘portal’ but a set of software and hardware tools and protocols designed to search for information on the World Wide Web and FTP servers. The results to a given inquiry are generally presented in a list of results often referred to as search engine results pages (SERPs). The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in databases or open directories. Unlike web directories, which are maintained only by human editors, search engines also maintain real-time information by running an algorithm on a web crawler.

Google, now considered a state-of-the-art search engine achieves this with a sophisticated set of sorting algorithms having to do with already established popularity, size, quality and content. For many years web developers everywhere have been attempting to ‘crack the code’ to maintaining high ranking search results. Early search engines contained certain preferences and weaknesses which could be exploited to a degree. Google however, has established it’s own priorities for world wide web meritocracy.

Most Web search engines are commercial ventures supported by advertising revenue and, as a result, some employ the practice of allowing advertisers to pay money to have their listings ranked higher in search results. Those search engines which do not accept money for their search engine results make money by running search related ads alongside the regular search engine results. The search engines make money every time someone clicks on one of these ads. Search engines, including Google (especially Google) will also rank content that contains some of their own assets (youtube content for example) higher since it is in their interest. This calls into question the integrity of many search results.

Internet Censorship

Many of you have heard of Google working in league with the China’s Central Government to help prevent the viewing of dissident and ‘politically inconvenient’ web content (i.e. anything to do with the Falun Gong, political separationist activitiy in Tibet, etc. Google works with governments worldwide to ensure that certain politically motivated content either isn’t SEEN, or else is difficult to find. Since this is a highly contentious issue about which little is known, we will be brief. The specifics of such censorship is only known by high ranking Google and other search engine officials and the respective governments – including the United States, the United Kingdom and others. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is very active on such fronts and has been an outspoken and active critic on the Web 2.0 debacle (this is a protocol established to further commodify and de-democratize web content for the Department of Homeland Security and Commercial interests).


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Google’s Search Engine and Crawler interaction

Overview of how a search engine crawls the web, extracts data from web pages and indexes the remaining information. See what happens when a user executes a search from Google.

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Wikipedia’s Page on Search Engines

Wired article on Google’s ranking algorithm

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Page Rank ‘tailoring’ or ‘sculpting’



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