Do you want to increase your website traffic ? If so, you need to build a search engine strategy. And before that, you need to figure out how search engines work.
Google Search is an automated system that uses web crawlers to index all of the content on the internet in a systematic way. According to statistics, these web crawlers have indexed 30 to 50 billion web pages. .
In fact, the pages included in search results are not provided by humans but rather are discovered and added by web crawlers as they navigate the web.
This article outlines how the search engines work in the context of your website’s ranking. Having this knowledge at your fingertips will make it much easier to fix crawling problems with your content, get your pages indexed, and to boost your website’s exposure in Google Search.
Table of Contents
What Are Search Engines And How Do They Work?
Search engines play a crucial role today. Over 1 billion users rely on search engines like Google to help them find out about everything from cooking to current events to finding pictures and videos. But what exactly do search engines do? How do they function? Keep reading to know the answer.
Search engines must crawl and index billions of websites in order to find the most relevant results for each search query. Then, they must determine how to organize this material and show it to the searcher.
The user experience is among the numerous factors given top priority to by Google and other search engines. They want to ensure that every search yields the most relevant and useful results.
There are numerous components that Google and other search engines use in their operations. They crawl websites for information using web crawlers. Then they index them so that they can be found in upcoming search requests.
Finally rank the indexed information depending on a number of factors. These factors are used as part of the algorithm to figure out which results are relevant to a search query and to deliver high-quality content.
Search engines have evolved over time to become more complex. They have the ability to provide specific information in response to queries, highlight specific content kinds, and even alter the search engine results themselves.
Google conducted more than 600,000 trials in 2020 to enhance the search algorithm. Google tests new search features with real-world traffic before rolling them out globally.
To ensure that your content is found on Google, it is essential to comprehend how these algorithms work. You will also be able to understand search engine results better when you do this kind of research on your own.
What Does a Search Engine Algorithm Do?
The search engine algorithm is a program that works to provide a high-quality, relevant collection of results as quickly as possible in response to a user’s query.
When a visitor clicks on a result from a search, it contributes to a history of actions that can later influence how the search engine displays the results.
What Happens When A Search Is Performed?
In response to a user’s search term, a search engine retrieves all webpages from its index that are likely to be pertinent and then uses an algorithm to arrange these sites in a hierarchy of relevance.
To choose the most relevant results, each search engine applies its own set of algorithms. This is why a page that performs well for a search query on Google might not do well on Bing.
In order to provide accurate results, search engines take into account not only the keywords in a query but also other factors such as:
Location: Google takes into consideration the location factor of a user before showing results. Some search terms, like “restaurants near me” or “movie times,” depend on your geographic location. Google uses them to show you results that are more accurate according to your location.
Language Recognition: When a user’s language is identified, the search engine will prioritize results that are presented in that particular language so the content offers a solid user expeirence.
Previous Search History: A user’s past queries into the search engine will affect the relevance of the search engine’s response to the current inquiry.
Google remembers your search history and will give preference to the sites you frequently visit based on the search queries you entered and the links you clicked on.
The 3 Basic Functions Of Search Engines
The 3 basic functions of search engines are crawling, indexing, and ranking.
Search engines employ algorithms known as “web crawlers” to systematically index vast collections of web content. These web crawlers are also known as search engine bots or spiders.
Here’s a bit of insight into the search engines’ three basic functions:
Crawling refers to the method through which search engines locate fresh and updated content via a network of crawlers or spiders. Although there is a wide variety of content formats (webpages, images, videos, PDFs, etc.), they are all discovered through links.
Crawler will start by getting a small number of web pages. It will then use the links on those pages to find other web addresses.
Following this chain of links, the crawler discovers fresh content, which it stores in an index called Caffeine, a vast database of discovered URLs. When a user enters a query that is a perfect match for the information kept at the given URL, the search engine then fetches this index.
Each web crawler works on its own and uses Google’s search algorithm to decide if the pages it visits should be added to Google’s index.
When the bots have finished their crawl, the next step is indexing. This process entails examining and submitting the content of the webpages to the search engine’s index.
Index is just a huge collection of all the websites in one place.
When conducting a search, search engines return results based on its index. This is why it is crucial to get your site indexed by Google, Bing and other search engines that may be important for your business. Your website will have a hard time getting to the users if it isn’t indexed.
The index compiles and arranges:
- In-depth information about the content and relevancy of every page on the web.
- a map of all the webpages to which each page relates.
- Any link’s text that can be clicked on.
Indexing takes into account whether or not there are ads, where the link is on the page, and any other information about the link’s context and what it means.
In order for your site to appear in search engine results, it must first be indexed. Remember that, crawling and indexing are ongoing activities that happen repeatedly. This is to keep the web page database up-to-date and brimming with relevant, fresh content.
After the page has been scanned and added to the index, it will be available as a possible response to a search query.
Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the pages you land on after entering a query into a search engine.
After a page has been crawled and indexed, it might appear in search engine results (SERP).
A search engine results page (SERP) displays results based on relevance. Typically, search engine ads appear first, followed by other relevant and organic results in the SERPs.
Rankings in search engines are based on a wide variety of variables including, but not limited to, appropriateness, value, location, authority, and technology.
Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of identifying the areas of improvement on a website and optimizing it so it can rank better on Google and other search engines.
Essentially, SEO helps make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website so they can rank better.
Major Google Ranking Factors
Since Google hasn’t made all of its ranking factors public, nobody knows how they all work together. However, there are a few essential ones that we do know. Let’s check out a few of them.
A higher position on Google’s search results page can be achieved by producing original, fresh, and useful information for the users.
You may expect a lot of attention from Google if your content is of high quality. Your website will not rise in the rankings no matter how well you optimize it if the information it contains is not of value to your target audience.
Links to your site from other sites are a major ranking factor for Google.
In reality, pages that have fewer or low quality backlinks receive very little organic traffic since they are hidden deep in the results pages.
Inbound links, or backlinks, are similar to a testimonial endorsing your website. Google considers the number and quality of these links when ranking websites.
What a user intends to achieve through a search is referred to as their “search intent.”
The degree to which your content satisfies this search intent also has a major influence on its Google rank.
Website Load Speed
Website load speed is another factor that influences your website’s Google rank.
It evaluates not only how quickly your entire site loads, but also how quickly its individual components, such as fonts and graphics, do so as well.
Google prioritizes sites that load quickly and offer a positive user experience.
Much of the search traffic comes from mobile devices. Therefore, you need to be take care of your website’s mobile performance.
Your website needs to be mobile-friendly if you want to achieve the best possible search engine results.
What Are The Most Popular Search Engines?
There may be hundreds of search engines in existence, but only a handful have sustained popularity due to factors like quality, usability, etc.
The five most visited search engines are as follows:
Google is by far the most well-known and widely-used search engine worldwide.
Alphabet-owned Google has a global market share of over 84%, making it the undisputed leader among search engines.
A large part of Google’s success is attributed to the fact that the search engine strives to improve search results for each user. Google has been successful because of its ability to identify the most appropriate and precise websites for each search and align its results with the search intent, perfectly almost every time. .
If Google is your go-to search engine, then Bing must be your next-best option. Microsoft released Bingin 2009, and it has been widely used since then.
With barely 3% of the market, Bing can’t be considered a serious competitor to Google, but it’s a terrific option for individuals who want to try a search engine other than Google.
Microsoft Bing is quite similar to Google in that it returns several kinds of search results, such as pictures, videos, locations on a map, and articles on various topics.
Yahoo is the third-largest search engine in the world. It used to be the most popular search engine, but as Google rose in-demand, Yahoo’s reputation and market share have went down.
Since Bing is the engine that drives Yahoo!, it’s no surprise that users will see very similar results when conducting a search on either platform. Even so, it stands as a significant web browser in its own right, used by millions of people every month.
Screenshot from Yandex search, February 2023
Yandex is a search engine that got its name from the phrase “Yet Another iNDEXer.”
Even though it has less than 1% of the overall search engine market share, Yandex is one of the most popular search engines in countries like Russia. It is also used for more than 60% of all searches, in countries like Turkey, Ukraine, and Belarus
Yandex, like Google, offers a wide range of products and services. These include, among others, a map service, a translation tool, online banking, and a music streaming service.
In China, Baidu has a near monopoly on search engine market. Despite having only a 1.65% share of the market globally, it accounts for more than 80% of the market share in China, where it processes billions of queries per day.
In many aspects, Baidu can be compared to Google. It’s similar to Google in that it displays extensive search results alongside the traditional blue and green link formatting.
Search engines are among the biggest drivers of web traffic and business exposure in the online world. So, they cannot be taken lightly once you have decided to build a solid presence in the internet world.
But it is important to understand how search engines work and the options you have before you can take this branch of digital marketing head-on and use it to your advantage.
Crawling, indexing, and ranking are the three most important functions of a search engine’s operation. Therefore, you need to consider these functions and optimize for them when doing SEO.
Even though Google tends to be the most popular search engine, there are other options like Bing and Yahoo that, though have a lower market share, can bring good exposure to your site, especially if it is new.