1. Before: what do I want to find?

1.5. Search types

Without doubt, the Internet has become the key tool for searching and finding information. When we, as users, use search engines, we leave a trace that companies and institutions try to profit from, and they do not miss the opportunity to have an influence on our decisions. The way search engines offer results to users has changed a lot since the emergence of the Internet, and this fact also determines the kind of searches we perform on the Internet.

The basic search types, which were available from the beginning of the Internet, try to find any of the following:

  • A website: searches devoted to finding a website or an on-line application without the need to write its URL address. When we write “YouTube” or “Netflix” in the search box, we do not intend to find information on these services, but access them directly.
  • Information: the goal of the search is to find the most relevant information hosted on the Internet on a given topic. This information may be retrieved in many different formats: text, image, video, infographics, maps, PDF documents, slide presentations, glossaries, directories, etc.
  • A product: in this case, the aim of the search is usually the purchase of a product or service. Companies devote many resources and efforts to achieving the most favourable positioning, and this is one of the main income sources for search engines.

Search engines have extensively studied user behaviour, and for this reason they put a great deal of care in the design of their results page (SERP, Search Engine Results Pages) and try to meet users’ needs and obtain an economic profit from them.