How does a search engine work?

People just coming into the world of digital marketing, may not fully understand the world of search engines and how they work. This post will help you with the answers.

What is a search engine?
It is a software program that searches for sites on the world wide web based on the words that you designate as search terms.

Dominating the search landscape

Search engines need to crawl the web pages and they use the best path which is links. The programs that crawl the web are called “bots” or “spiders” and they index the pages. There are three types of spiders, the Googlebot (Google), Slurp (Yahoo!) and MSNBot (Bing). When these spiders craw the web, they add data to the search engine index. When a user then types in a query, for example “mobile phones”, this is then checked against the search engine’s index of all the web pages it has analyzed. The results that are returned are ranked in order with the best results at the top.

Where do the spiders start?
They start with a list of page URLs that have previously been added to their index. When it visits these pages if it finds new pages, through the links, it adds more to the index. It returns to the sites in the index regularly but no search engine will tell us how often this is. Adding a sitemap to your Google webmaster tools informs Google of your site. A sitemap is an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index.

Sometimes it takes a while for new pages or any modified pages for the spider to find and index. A web page may have been “spidered” but not yet “indexed.” Until a page is indexed which means it has been added to the index, the spidered pages will not be available to those searching with the search engine.

How does the search engine determine rank a page?
There are billions of web pages on the net and therefore it is very important to make sure your site is featured in the search engine result pages (SERPS). Each search engine has developed a set of rules and mathematical equations, called an algorithm to set the order of its rankings. Unfortunately no one knows what exactly goes into the algorithm. The seo (search engine optimisation) consultant will work with you to help improve your rankings and therefore traffic by following the on page and off page rules about seo.

The algorithm between the search engines is different which is what they give different results for the same query. It is important to not just focus on Google but make sure you rank well on the other search engines.

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