A Look Inside Search Engines

Understanding search engines and how they work will help you to better understand how to use them. If you can grasp the ideas and the concepts of search engines then you are on the right path to being able to put them to use for you.

Bing Search Page

Search engines can be rather confusing, but through a direct and simple explanation you should be able to get the basic understanding you need to know how search engines work and think.

Search engines are used to catalog all the websites and web pages on the internet. Search engines are programs that scan for information, content, in order to categorize it. When an internet user enters a search term and presses enter, they will then get pages of relevant websites and web pages that match their search query.

The first step in how a search engine operates and gathers information is crawling the web. To do this the search engine uses software called a crawler or spider.

Man doing an online search
Benjamin Dada / Unsplash

The crawler or spider will follow links throughout the web to scan content. They are usually only able to scan text based content, so java script, videos and anything password protected will not be recognized and therefore will not be used by the crawler or spider.

Once the crawler or spider has done its work, the gathered information is then indexed. The index is like a large database and is serves as the main information bank for the search engine to use when internet users do a search.

Within the index, keywords or keyword phrases are used to assign each web page and website to specific search terms that internet users may use. This is where the websites and web pages are ranked and organized into the order they will appear in the search results.

The next thing that happens is the search by an internet user. You have probably used a search engine to find information, so you know that you type a term into the search engine, press enter and you get pages of results.

Google Search Page on a Computer Screen
Nathana Rebouças / Unsplash

The search engine will take the term you enter, compare it to the database and process the search request. Each search engine has its own way to process and figure which websites and web pages match your search term.

These are called algorithms. Once the search engine has processed the request the results are returned to you and you get the pages of relevant websites and web pages.

Each search engine is different. When you search for a term on two different search engines, you will likely get two different results.

This is due to the algorithms used by each search engine. Algorithms weigh different factors, like keyword density, links and metatags.

Some factors are given more weight, meaning they are considered more important, by one search engine than another. To make things more complicated, search engines often change their algorithms.

When you are optimizing your website or web page for the search engines, it helps to know what algorithms the search engine uses. Search Engine Optimization or SEO, is a major part of internet marketing.

It involves adding content, changing website setup and doing any tweaks needed to help get your website or web page ranked high on the search engines for your chosen keyword or keyword phrase.

Understanding how search engines work and how they rank websites can be a major help in SEO analysis. You will have to continuously keep up on SEO for your website, though.

As mentioned, search engines are always changing their criteria for ranking websites, so you need to be changing with them in order to ensure you stay ranked high.

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