We use search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo regularly to get the information we desire. But have you ever thought about how these search engines work? There are millions and billions of webpages and websites available on the internet. Yet, whenever you enter a specific keyword, the search engine delivers results relevant to your query in a matter of seconds.
I bet that most of you don’t have a clue how a search engine works through those millions and billions of webpages and what process goes on behind the scenes. In this article, we’ll look at the behind-the-scenes process of search engines, how they work, and how they rank and index websites.
So, let’s get started!
The search engine works by a method called “crawling.” These crawlers crawl billions of webpages and follow the links on these pages. Let’s dig deeper into the mystery of search engines and how they work?
What is Crawling?
Crawling is a method used by search engines to crawl billions of webpages available on the internet. Search engines use crawlers known as “spiders” or “bots” to crawl around the internet and look for web content. These “spiders” or “bot” are codes that search the information on hundreds and billions of webpages “read” it, and continue their journey by following the links from a webpage to another webpage.
If you have a website and a “spider” has crawled your website, it doesn’t mean that it won’t return. The spider periodically visits your website and looks for the changes made into the webpage content. It means that if you’re a content developer, you’ll always have an opportunity to update your content.
What is Indexing?
The crawlers or spiders not only browse your website for content, but it stores the information found in a giant database known as “the indexing.” The crawler’s objective is to store every bit of information found on the webpages for users’ future benefit.
In simple terms, indexing means organizing the information for negative and positive key signals, and it stores it in the correct location. A search engine considers the following factors while indexing the webpages:
- Keywords found on in the content of a webpage.
- The type of content.
- How users interact with the page or user engagement.
- Content freshness, such as how recently the content was updated.
What is the Ranking?
When a searcher performs a search and enters a query, the search engines look in their index for the highly relevant content to the searcher’s query. The ordering of the webpages by the search engine is known as “ranking.”
Search Engine Algorithm
Now you know about the terms and have a basic idea of how the search engine works; let’s talk about the search engine algorithm. When a searcher searches for a query, to deliver high-quality, relevant data in response to the query, search engines use an algorithm. The algorithm is a formula that helps in retrieving the information and ranking it in a meaningful way.
All search engines have their own algorithms, but the search engine algorithm’s primary purpose remains the same, i.e., to retrieve and rank the information in a meaningful way. Let’s take an example of Google, which is the world’s most popular search engine. Google updates its algorithm almost regularly; the regular updates are minor to improve the search engine’s performance. Other significant core updates in the algorithm are made to deal with the specific issues. Search engines don’t reveal why they update their algorithm, but the primary objective is to improve the search quality.
What Happens When a Search is Performed?
When a user performs a search or enters a query, the search engines go into its index and take out all the pages relevant to a query entered by the user. The search engine then uses an algorithm to rank those relevant pages hierarchically into the search results.
As discussed above, the algorithm of all the search engines is not the same. It means that a website ranks number one in Google search results for a keyword may not rank number one on the Yahoo search engine.
Search engines have a complex algorithm, and they use different factors to index and rank webpages. However, the basic process of search engines remains the same. If you’re a content developer, content marketer, or digital marketer, you should know the basics of search engines. The knowledge about search engines helps you to optimize your content according to search engines.
Now you know how search engines work?!