The purpose of storing an index is to optimize speed and performance in finding relevant documents for a search query. Without an index, the search engine would scan every document in the corpus, which would require considerable time and computing power. For example, while an index of 10,000 documents can be queried within milliseconds, a sequential scan of every word in 10,000 large documents could take hours. The additional computer storage required to store the index, as well as the considerable increase in the time required for an update to take place, are traded off for the time saved during information retrieval.

What is Indexing

Search engine indexing collects, parses, and stores data to facilitate fast and accurate information retrieval. Index design incorporates interdisciplinary concepts from linguistics, cognitive psychology, mathematics, informatics, physics, and computer science. An alternate name for the process in the context of search engines designed to find web pages on the Internet is Web indexing.

Popular engines focus on the full-text indexing of online, natural language documents.Media types such as video and audio and graphics are also searchable.

Meta search engines reuse the indices of other services and do not store a local index, whereas cache-based search engines permanently store the index along with the corpus. Unlike full-text indices, partial-text services restrict the depth indexed to reduce index size. Larger services typically perform indexing at a predetermined time interval due to the required time and processing costs, while agent-based search engines index in real time.