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Today’s business largely depends on its visibility on the Internet. For this reason, everyone would like to know how search engines work and how to better position themselves on them. Your business depends on being visible in search engines. You definitely want to understand this thing that has so much power over your success.
But understanding how search engines work can be confusing.
How do search engines work?
There is a whole branch of industry that is based on trying to figure out in what ways and for what reasons websites are ranked. But the information we have is constantly changing, so this is a continuous race, but it also gives everything a charm.
When we talk about search engines, Google is certainly inviolable in the market, so the emphasis in our text will be on it. We can’t tell you how the Google algorithm works (no one can), but we can provide some basic information about how search engines work, which can help you clarify some things. Here are a few main things you should know.
What is the goal of the search engines?
The first thing to understand about how search engines work is that their priority is to provide the best possible results for what users are looking for.
When it comes to organic search results, the sweetest traffic we can generate from the internet, search engines only care about the people who search. By providing the information that people need, search engines ensure that they will continue to be the first choice of a satisfied user. We are all witnessing how good Google is at this.
That primary goal leads to a secondary one that brings the company profit: making money on ads. Businesses pay to advertise on search engines because they know that a huge number of people use them every day. As long as Google keeps its users happy they will come back and Google ads will be extremely profitable.
Therefore, the main concern of search engines is how to ensure that the results provide the most useful information for a user query. That’s when things start to get complicated.
In order for a search engine to be able to identify the right site for each possible query (or to get as close as possible to it), it must have a record of all possible websites on the network. At the same time, they must understand what is on each of them. To achieve this, search engines create a huge index of sites.
This index attempts to identify and organize each website in a way that allows it to link links between the keywords being searched and the content on each page. Above all, it must be able to assign a certain quality to different websites that cover the same topic. Search engines need to determine this based on factors that machines can measure objectively.
What are crawlers?
The first challenge that search engines have when creating an index is identifying all the websites that are on the Internet. This part of the job is on crawlers for indexing. Each time a crawler discovers a new page, it indexes it and collects all the relevant information on it needed for the search engine index. When that page is added to the index, the crawler uses every link on that page to find any new pages to index.
Search engines algorithm
The second challenge of the search engine index is much more complex: assigning adequate value to each site individually. Given the incredible amount of data online and the huge number of sites that are set up every day, this task is anything but easy. How does a search engine decide which position to give to which website?
This is where the search engine algorithm comes into play. Engineers at each of the major search engine companies have spent countless hours working out a complicated algorithm, which uses a number of factors to assign relative value to sites and websites.
While there are many different factors that determine exactly why a page will be positioned in a position, much more than we can summarize here and more than even the greatest SEO expert knows, there is still knowledge about some of the most important ranking factors that Google and other search engines take into account:
- Links are the most important ranking factor, especially external links (links that point from one page to another), because every time another website links to yours, it signals to Google that there is something authoritative and noteworthy on the page it links to. While each of the factors is important, ranking is based primarily on the number and quality of links pointing to that website.
- Age of sites – Older sites are generally considered more reliable and authoritative than new ones.
- Keywords – Search engines always try to give the most relevant results, so they search for terms on the page related to the queries of the searcher. The more you use related keywords, the more you signal to the browser that your content is relevant.
- Mobile usability – Google is at the forefront of using mobile usability as a ranking factor. If your site is not optimized for use on mobile devices, it could harm your rankings and rankings
- Page Speed - People are impatient and so are search engines. A page that loads slowly will, therefore, be ranked lower.
- User behavior data – Google tracks what people do when they come to the site. If someone clicks on the page and immediately leaves it (Bounce rate), it is a signal that the page did not provide what was requested. If instead, users spend time on the page or even go to different pages on the site when they come, then it shows Google that the site provides a certain value.
Google and other search engines have provided some information about the ranking factors they use, but they are generally silent about how their algorithms work because they don’t want people trying to manipulate search results.
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