Basically, a search engine is a website that you may visit, enter a query, and receive a list of websites related to your query.
“On the Internet, a search engine has three parts:
- A spider (also called a “crawler” or a “bot”) that goes to every page or representative pages on every Web site that wants to be searchable and
reads it, using hypertext links on each page to discover and read a site’s other pages.
- A program that creates a huge index (sometimes called a “catalog”) from the pages that have been read.
- A program that receives your search request, compares it to the entries in the index, and returns results to you.”
For more basic info on search engines please check out Wikipedia’s Web Search Engine.
The main difference between a search engine and a search directory is how they acquire their indexes.
- A search engine uses programs to “crawl” through the web (hence the term “crawler”) and the results it provides to queries is provided from it’s findings.
- A search directory usually has human editors that sort through the multitudes of URLs that are submitted. These people take your site and put it in an appropriate category which can be browsed.
For more on this please read Search Engine Submission.
For information on how to generate traffic by submitting your site to the search engines and directories please visit the Search Engine Exposure page.