kids encyclopedia robot

Search engine facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

A search engine is a website that allows users to look up information on the World Wide Web (WWW), part of the Internet. The search engine will achieve this by looking at many web pages to find matches to the user's search inputs. It will return results ranked by relevancy and popularity by the search engine. The most popular search-engines are Google Search and Bing. Older services include Webcrawler are, Yahoo! Search, Lycos, and Alta Vista. Examples of specialized engines are Ecosia (supports ecological goals) or Tenor (picture engine).

To use a search engine you must enter at least one keyword into the search box. Usually, an on-screen button must be clicked on to submit the search. The search engine looks for matches between the keyword(s) entered and its database of websites and words.

After the user inputs their search or query into the search bar, a list of results will appear on the screen known as the search engine results page (SERP). This list of webpages contains matches related to the user's query in a particular order determined by a ranking system. Most search engines will remove "spam" pages from the list of results to provide a better list of results. The user can then click on any of the links to go to that webpage.

Search engines are some of the most advanced websites on the web. They use special computer code to sort the web pages on SERPs. The most popular or highest-quality web pages will be near the top of the list.

When a user types words into the search engine, it looks for web pages with those words. There could be thousands, or even millions, of web pages with those words. So, the search engine helps users by putting the web pages it thinks the user wants first.

Search engines are very useful to find information about anything quickly and easily. Using more keywords or different keywords improves the results of searches.

A search service may also include a portal with news, games, and more information besides a search engine. Yahoo! has a popular portal, while Google has a simple design on its front page. Search services usually work without charging money for finding sites, and are often supported with text or banner advertisements.


Search engines use robots to ‘crawl’ online content. The process of crawling is the first measure that search engines take before indexing content in virtually any form–videos, text, images, webpages, etc. The content may constitute newly uploaded content to the internet or content that features updates or changes to its material. These robots, also known as crawlers or bots, record the information along with its links. Once the material has been crawled, it can be stored in a massive URL database. It’s this database that generates internet search results.


Timeline (full list)
Year Engine Current status
1993 W3Catalog Inactive
ALIWEB Inactive
JumpStation Inactive
WWW Worm Inactive
1994 WebCrawler Active Inactive, redirects to Disney
Lycos Active
Infoseek Inactive, redirects to Disney
1995 Yahoo! Search Active, initially a search function for Yahoo! Directory
Daum Active Active
Magellan Inactive
Excite Active
MetaCrawler Active
AltaVista Inactive, acquired by Yahoo! in 2003, since 2013 redirects to Yahoo!
1996 RankDex Inactive, incorporated into Baidu in 2000
Dogpile Active
HotBot Inactive (used Inktomi search technology)
Ask Jeeves Active (rebranded
1997 AOL NetFind Active (rebranded AOL Search since 1999)
Northern Light Inactive
Yandex Active
1998 Google Active
Ixquick Active as
MSN Search Active as Bing
empas Inactive (merged with NATE)
1999 AlltheWeb Inactive (URL redirected to Yahoo!)
GenieKnows Inactive, rebranded Yellowee (was redirecting to
Naver Active
Teoma Inactive (redirect to
2000 Baidu Active
Exalead Inactive
Gigablast Inactive
2001 Kartoo Inactive
2003 Active
2004 Inactive
Clusty Inactive (redirect to DuckDuckGo)
Mojeek Active
Sogou Active
2005 SearchMe Inactive
KidzSearch Active, Google Search
2006 Soso Inactive, merged with Sogou
Quaero Inactive Active
ChaCha Inactive Active
Live Search Active as Bing, rebranded MSN Search
2007 wikiseek Inactive
Sproose Inactive
Wikia Search Inactive Active, Google Search
2008 Powerset Inactive (redirects to Bing)
Picollator Inactive
Viewzi Inactive
Boogami Inactive
LeapFish Inactive
Forestle Inactive (redirects to Ecosia)
DuckDuckGo Active
TinEye Active
2009 Bing Active, rebranded Live Search
Yebol Inactive
Scout (Goby) Active
NATE Active
Ecosia Active Active, sister engine of Ixquick
2010 Blekko Inactive, sold to IBM
Cuil Inactive
Yandex (English) Active
Parsijoo Active
2011 YaCy Active, P2P
2012 Volunia Inactive
2013 Qwant Active
2014 Egerin Active, Kurdish / Sorani
Swisscows Active
Searx Active
2015 Yooz Inactive
Cliqz Inactive
2016 Kiddle Active, Google Search
2017 Presearch Active
2020 Petal Active
2021 Brave Search Active
Queye Active Active


After the bots crawl content, it can be indexed in the database and arranged in terms of its relevance. If internet content has not been crawled or indexed, it is unlikely to appear in the search results when someone makes a query no matter how relevant that content may be. After the content has been crawled, each of its words is indexed. The search engines also pinpoint where words are located on the crawled pages. During the indexing process, the search engine compares the content to other content with similar ‘words’ and decides how to organize it within its index.


Ranking is a complex process that is dependent on search engine algorithms. When a searcher makes a query on Google looking for anything from 19th-century British landscape painters to New York City plumbers, the search engine will generate a list of good matches to that query. How these matches appear in the list relates to their rank. The search engine lists what it ‘thinks’ are the best answers to the query early in its search results.

Google and other search engines rely on algorithms to interpret the searcher’s query, identify the websites and pages in its index that are related to the request, and it then ranks them in terms of relevance in its presented search results list. What’s important to search engines is to provide searchers with the most relevant matches to their queries possible. Website operators, in turn, use search engine optimization to give their pages a higher rank.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Motor de búsqueda para niños

kids search engine
Search engine Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.