Most of us have been creating and publishing content for our website on the internet for years now, while some of us probably have just started out. Either way, each of us has been trying to improve our website rankings on Alexa or Google Search Results Pages. We have been using ‘SEO’ to get the things done, but when you ask any of us about how SEO works, we know only one thing, ‘you put in a keyword and a few links in your article and it shows up on the google search’.
Well, even superficially, that is not close to how search engines actually work. So, using some of the parts of the mighty internet and reading through the developer’s theory about it, let’s get to know exactly How Search Engines Work.
Step 1: Making a Search
When you make a search on Google Search or any search engine, the search engine does not consider the entire search. It only picks up the main keywords and finds relative tags on the internet. It skips punctuations, connecting words, redundant words or uses them as different tags and makes a search for the user.
Suppose you search for ‘What is the best vacuum cleaner for domestic use?’. The search engine would not search your entire phrase, because there will hardly be any results for such a long search phrase, however, for shorter searches like ‘vacuum cleaners’, there will be many results. So, what does the search engine do and how does it work?
The search engine picks up keywords from longer search phrase like, ‘best’, ‘vacuum’, ‘vacuum cleaner’, ‘domestic’. If it cannot find a result with ‘domestic’ or if the results are few, then it uses synonyms like ‘home’ to increase the results. For shorter phrases, it uses keywords which are commonly used and uses your location and previous searches to get you a better-optimized output.
Step 2: Form and Then From the Index
Just like how we need an index to find a specific topic from a book, the internet too needs an index of all the web pages. A bot or a program called as the ‘web crawler’ or the ‘spider’ does this for a search engine.
A crawler is said to be roaming around the ‘web’ all the time and tracking down all the pages that it visits. Whenever a crawler visits or comes across a new page while roaming or through links or a beginner website, it copies the URL of that website and stores it in the index. Then it copies the URL of all the pages of the website and stores them along with the purpose of the website, the tags used, other backlinks and all the other important information that it might need.
The indexed pages are then used to display results to the users from all the websites. The longer the index of a website or the more centralized the niche, higher are the chances of a website to display for certain keywords over all the other websites.
While some pages block out the web crawler to protect information or to keep it off the search engine world and limit it only to the organization and the employees, most of the pages try to attract the crawler. Each page which is recommended by a search engine has been visited by the crawler.
Step 3: Sorting the Results
When you make a search, there are thousands or at times million of matches for a search but not everything is going to be useful. So, how Search Engine works around the load of information it has and provides the user with the information they need?
The first priority is the closeness of the search. The keyword searched should match with the purpose of the website the bot is going to show the user on the display. The second priority is the depth of information, the more relevant content on the page and on the website, higher are the chances of the result being displayed on the searches.
The age of domain, domain authority, length of content, backlinks, images, on page videos and everything else shows the quality of the content on a website and a better-optimized page gets higher chances to be on the display.
All of the above shown factors, overtime, bring traffic to a page and the user time spent on the page, reviews, comments, link clicks, page clicks, likes, shares and recommendation, together, develop into a website’s rank. Higher the number of users visiting a website, higher is the rank of the website. A high ranked website will always dominate a low-ranking website.
Different search engines show different algorithms and use different means to rank a page, however, the crux of the ranking system is more or less the same with interchanged priorities. An important feature is, however, the loading time of a page, it has been surveyed that nearly 90% of the people leave thee page if a website does not respond in 3 seconds.
There are a lot of factors that govern the working of a search engine. It could be broken into 3 steps. The indexing where the pages are identified and stored by the engine for referencing and quicker searches. Harnessing of searches whenever you search something on the internet and finally displaying them on the web after sorting them out according to the priority of the pages.
It might be worth noting that indexing today happens before you search anything and is step two and not step one. This is because a search engine has developed over the ages and has stored the common searches as keywords. If you did not search for the keywords, there would have been no indexing for those words and indexing is completely pointless unless you make a search.
Though there are a lot of ways to beat the search engines and get some high ranking without actually posting good content, the engines are becoming robust over time and it is becoming difficult to beat them. Content is king now and SEO professionals and website owners should give priority to publishing fresh, detailed and informative content and then back linking to authority websites as a first step towards ranking anywhere on search engines.