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Is Google.com a search engine?

Is Google.com a search engine?

I’m not what you would call a “web developer” but I do spend fair amount of time on the internet. Though the question might be basic, would you consider Google.com a search engine?
Amanda Bogs

This seemingly simple question (thanks, Amanda) can help answer some very basic doubts that beginners have. Is Google.com a search engine or is it a web site?

What is Google.com?

Technically speaking, Google.com is simply a domain name that points to a web site. When you load this web address in a web browser, what you see is the famous Google page with familiar search query field which we all have used.

Screenshot of the Google.com page

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The Google web site

In addition to the home page, Google web site has sections just like other sites. For instance, the Google corporate web site – Google.com/corporate – has information on the company, its founders and business philosophy. The Google web site is presumably very large and hosts many services offered by the company. For example, the Google Trends service (www.google.com/trends) shows you how often a search term was used on the Google search engine.

So Google.com is not a search engine, right?

Let us look at it from another angle. The page that loads in your web browser when you go to google.com is the web interface of the search engine. Its main function is to receive queries from the visitor and pass it to a program.

For simplicity and for the sake of easy ‘digestion’, we can consider the Google search engine to consist of the following:

  • An indexed database that stores all the information on which the searches are performed.
  • The Googlebot which moves about on the internet and picks up information. This is an automated program that goes from web site to web site finding new and updated information and sending it back the indexing program (below).
  • An indexing program which takes the information sent from the Googlebot and puts it in the database in an ordered manner. The indexing program is, in my opinion, the most important part of the Google search engine because it determines the results.
  • The actual search engine program that takes the query from the user and runs it against the indexed database.
  • The program that displays results found by the search engine program based on the query provided. This may be a part of the actual search engine program.
  • The interface to the search engine which helps in gathering queries. In Google’s case, there are several interfaces to the search engine. For instance, the simple www.google.com page that can be loaded in any web browser is the most familiar interface. You can also query the search engine directly from the Google browser toolbar or in case of Chrome users, the Omnibar (URL/search) bar!

Hence, what you see on google.com is a web page interface to the Google search engine. But will it be incorrect to refer to Google.com as a search engine? In technical circles… probably. But most will make allowances. If the word “google” can become a synonym for “search”, why should you bother with these finer details?

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