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The Evolution of Search Engines: Do You Know About it?


The modern internet contains practically every piece of knowledge that humans have ever gained. While this is a positive thing, it also introduces the problem of confusion. So many sites exist that ostensibly cover the same data, and so many tricksters aim for clicks despite having no substance, that knowing how to search is a skill in itself. However, such abundance wasn’t always the case. Taking a look back at the biggest developments in search history, we want to see what’s changed, and why traditional search engines and services may no longer be the king of the search castle.

The First Shaky Steps

The very first form of online search came about in 1989, created by McGill University student Alan Emtage. According to History Computer, Emtage started this search system called Archie before the advent of the modern web. This system worked by searching public FTP archives, to find relevant files and documents. Credited as laying the groundwork for all internet searches to come, Emtage is one of the internet’s greatest unsung heroes.

After the more recognizable internet began in 1991, additional programs were built to carry on Archie’s legacy. These included the World Wide Web Virtual Library, Veronica, and, finally, Yahoo! Search. Developing into a system simple and well-known enough for the public to use, search engines became a necessity, and with this demand came competition.

Altavista website” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Christiaan Colen

One Search to Rule Them All

What would eventually become Google started with what some would consider a less welcoming name – BackRub. As Business Insider notes, this 1996 project was named for its ability to search “backlinks”, which essentially operated as a precursor to the now all-important search engine optimization (SEO).

In 1997, the BackRub team decided to change to a name that they thought better illustrated the quantity of data that passed through their system. Taken from the number googolplex, Google was born, and the domain name was registered. Over the coming years, other systems like AltaVista and MSN would launch their engines, but none could compete with the accuracy of Google. In the end, while many of the other names survived, they were nothing compared to what Google became.

The Splintered Age

As Google gained a practically monopolistic share of the search market, many more dedicated users became frustrated with how it worked. SEO was fickle, and as some companies learned to lean into it, those who didn’t could be left behind. To counter this problem, a greater reliance than ever before was placed on full websites and services which acted as search services in specific areas.

One such example of this is the Trussle mortgage broker which acts as a search and comparison system for prospective homeowners. Working to collate a vast number of different mortgage plans into one dedicated system, this service goes a step beyond regular search engines. By performing more detailed work such as opening communication with vendors and ensuring user safety, systems like these have become the natural next step in search functionality.


Google” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by A4-Nieuws

As we enter the 2020s, search engines have more power and influence than ever before. While the likes of Google are still incredibly useful, it’s important to remember that they’re not as all-inclusive as they used to be. Today, specialist services in specific industries take the search idea further than traditional systems, upping the game for a new generation. Since the result is a better environment for all users, we can’t help but see the new age as a good thing, even if the age of silly names is well behind us.

Written by

Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson is a web content specialist who loves to write on new Technology, Digital Marketing & Internet. Ryan work has appeared in a wide range of publications in Online Media Coverage for Digital Companies Like: Wondershare, NordVPN.

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