Friday, June 12, 2015

Search engines: How do they work?

If you have spent enough time online, you must have heard of the likes of Google, Bing, Yahoo Search and probably AOL. They are all search engines used for one of the most popular activities in the Internet—search. They are more than just digitised encyclopaedias; most of them come integrated with an extensive array of functionalities and features and cast an influence that almost literally affects the entirety of the Internet’s surface.

If your business can’t be found within the Search Engine, you don’t get the traffic…

When we talk about “Organic” or “Natural” Search, these are the results that appear in the main body of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), that aren’t paid for, and are determined by Google (and the other search engines in their own platforms) based on an algorithm that considers the content of your website and matches this to a consumer’s search query.

Did you know?
  • 81% of internet users use search engines to find a website.
  • 73% of all online transactions begin with a search engine.
  • 87% of users only look at the first page of results.
  • 85% of clicks are organic clicks
The Search Engine

Search Engines are online tools that scour the Internet to provide users with the information they need. The resources they allow users access to are virtually limitless, explaining their immense popularity and making them invaluable tools for any Internet surfer.    

To explain the scope of the Search Engine’s influence on modern living using a few words is practically impossible. The way they place information within any individual’s reach has affected the way we do business, communicate, study, eat, and conduct ourselves, among others. Their influence and power grows as the number of their users increase, and as Google has proven over the last few years, any changes can have dramatic effects on the Internet as a whole.

How it works

Search engines use automated robots, otherwise known as “spiders,” “bots,” “crawlers” or “indexers” to find content in websites. As the Internet is a figurative jungle made up of vast troves of information, search engines use links as pathways or guides. They follow these links in order to “spider” the sites and “index” the information in the site.

Webmasters also may also use .xml and .txt feeds as site maps of the content they want search engines to index in the directory. Ideally, these lists contain each of the URLs in the site. All indexed information is then gathered and stored in huge servers for easy retrieval at a later time. When a search is performed, search engines take indexed information matching the search query and present them as search results.

When using the robot method, search engines look at a number of factors to determine how deeply and frequently they will index your website. Some of these factors are:
  • The uniqueness of the content in your site
  • The uniqueness of the content in a page as compared to other pages in the site
  • The uniqueness of the content in a pages versus all other pages in the Internet
To ensure that search engines find your content and index them, you need to keep an eye on one key factor—your links. Search engines determine the quality and the quantity of inbound links to your site. As a rule, it is best to ensure that your links come from high-quality sites. This will encourage search engines to index your site more frequently. It will also lead them to consider you as a high-quality source yourself and give you a better ranking in the results pages.

Obscure or “deep” search makes up a significant percentage all searches performed via search engines. As such, it is important that you pair great links with high-quality copy. Many website owners tend to think this means suffusing their web content with keywords. This may be a mistake as the practice tends to sacrifice readability. One thing you need to remember is that search engines today are focused on providing positive user experience and as such, they favour content that are easy for users to digest and understand. So when you write your copy, make sure to write for both humans and search engines.

Needless to say, the workings of a search engine may not be as simple as this post connotes, but this gives you a good idea. The extent of search engines’ influence over the net may be complex in itself, too, but remember that ultimately, they are tools for humans to use. Your focus therefore, should be the humans using them just as much as the spiders themselves.

Interested in a deeper understanding of Search Marketing for your business? Come along to our free marketing seminars at Vorian Agency. As a Google Partner and Bing Ads Professional Company, we also offer a comprehensive range of Search Marketing services.