The Development and Influence of Search Engine


The Internet search engine is the main tool to query the information of websites and web pages. With the popularity of the network and the development of smart phones, the utilization rate of search engine is higher and higher. In a short period of more than ten years, search engine has rapidly risen from an unknown network tool to the second largest core technology of the Internet, and has become one of the most interesting technologies of the major research institutions. The direct cause is the explosive growth of Internet information. Search engine can quickly find accurate and extensive information for people and bring convenience to them. At the same time, its own business value is also growing. The use of search engines to promote publicity has become the main consideration of small and medium-sized enterprises. This essay will be divided into three parts. The first part will explain the development process of search engine by demonstrating several famous examples of search engine. The second part will introduce the impact of search engine on people from the economic and social aspects. The last part will discuss the influence of search engine on contemporary university students. 

The Development of Search Engine

The emergence, development and change of search engine are not completed overnight. While dating back to the earliest generation of Internet-based search engines, Web Crawler and Lycos can be represented. Web Crawler allows users to search for any word on any web page, which is also one of the most basic search engine standards (Tom, Dean & Satheesh, 2011). Lycos mainly classifies the directory manually, which is characterized by manually classifying and storing various directories of the website. Users can search for the website in various ways (Wall, 2017).  

Logo of Lycos, BW Businessworld, some rights reserved

With the rapid expansion of network information, users hope to find the information they want quickly and accurately. The most representative and successful one is Google, which has nearly 90 percentages of the search engine market share in the United States (Statcounter, 2020). It uses PageRank algorithm to analyze the importance of web pages, and then present important results to users by sorting (Tom, Dean & Satheesh, 2011). With its wide information coverage and excellent search performance, Google has created a new situation for the development of search engine technology. As the market competition of search engine becomes more and more fierce, companies begin to enter the new development field of search engine. For example, Google operates a large number of vertical search services, providing in-depth information and re-development and utilization of information resources from the perspective of specialization, personalization, intelligence and humanization. At present, Google has been involved in a wide range of vertical search fields, such as email, map, translate, etc. (Wall, 2017) These new modes of search engine have brought great impact to the original search mode, and leading the search engine into a new professional and personalized search era. The search engine service changes from network information navigation to network information service, and forming a huge market space for new information value-added services.

Influence of Search Engine on Economic and Social

The biggest impact of search engine on the economy is reflected in advertising. The value of search engine is that users spend a lot of time online using search engines to find the information they want. Therefore, the status of search engine in the promotion of website is high. Sung, Choi & Min (2016) explains that, as the most frequently visited search engine website, Google has become the first choice for online advertising and target marketing. At the same time, the data shows that a country with the search engine has an average online advertising market size of 0.018% higher than that of a country without the search engine (Sung, Choi & Min, 2016). As can be seen from this point, search engine promotes the online advertising market and has great potential to create new economic value.

In addition, the biggest impact of search engines on society is reflected in search engine bias and network privacy. Tom, Dean & Satheesh (2011) indicates that research has shown that there are political and social biases in search engine results. For example, when searching “CEO” on Google images, the number of male images search result is far greater than that of women. Another political example is under pressure from China, the App Store of Apple deleted the search result of an application which can help Hong Kong protestors to track police. (Nicas, 2019)

Screenshot of the pictures search results of “CEO” on Google

Rieger (2009) demonstrates that in order to provide better search results, search engine websites collect users’ preference data by tracking their search history. In this regard, people will worry about whether their personal privacy is leaked on the Internet.

Influence of Search Engine on University Student

With the application and popularization of Internet search engine, contemporary university students are more and more inseparable from the network search engine. According to the data statistics of OCLC, when searching for information, 89% of univeristy students start from search engine, and 68% of them prefer using Google as their search engine channel (Rieger, 2009). As can be seen from this data, university students have established extremely close contact with the Internet, especially the search engine. As  a university student, while fully enjoying its convenience, should also have the thinking of dependence brought about by it. First of all, the search engine can improve the learning efficiency of university students, but it is also easy to make students dependent, which leads to the decline of autonomous learning ability. The experimental results of Salehi, Du & Ashman (2018) show that undergraduate students rely on search engine as their most important and reliable academic information resources, even surpassing lecture notes and library resources. 

Infographic of Importance of Search Engine Resources, Sara Salehi, Jia Tina Du, and Helen Ashman, some rights reserved

Moreover, Salehi, Du & Ashman (2018) indicate that learning resources obtained through search engines are less reliable than academic sources. As mentioned above, the search engine is not objective and neutral, and the pages and information it searches are not complete. Not only is the ranking controlled by the relevant interest groups, but also the content displayed in different regions is different. Furthermore, many university students will directly use the information obtained through the search engine as an objective theory. This will lead to a great deviation in students’ understanding of learning and topics. (Salehi, Du & Ashman, 2018) Besides, after entering the search engine, university students still accept information resources freely to a large extent. For such a long time, unrestrained and unconscious infringement of their copy and paste author’s intellectual property rights, leading to the gradual weakening of university students’ awareness of intellectual property protection.


In conclusion, the origin of search engine comes from people’s desire to obtain more information. The development of search engine is closely related to the rapid development of the Internet. As a channel for obtaining information, search engine has brought convenience to people. At the same time, it has become a channel for companies to promote quickly, and promote the development of the Internet economy. In addition, search engine has also improved the learning efficiency of university students, but there is a risk of university students becoming dependent on search engine. University students need to be careful to screen out informal and incomplete resources while using search engine. Therefore, how to use search engine reasonably is the most important.



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Irene Chen
About Irene Chen 3 Articles
Name: Yueli CHEN Preferred Name: Irene Major: Digital Culture The reason why I took this unit is I want to improve my critical thinking and writing skills. Moreover, I am interested in things and topics related to digital media.