Search Engines: Discover How Search Engines Really Work
Search engines have become a huge part of our life. Be it a review of a product or finding an address, all you have to do is type it in Google, and lo and behold! You have what you need. But how does Google, or any other search engine work? Let’s know in detail about them:
What is Search Engine Ranking?
A simple query in Google throws thousands of results spanning over many pages. Each result generated has its own ranking. The ranking of the pages is measured by the position it holds on the results page. If your page reflects on the 1st page of the search engine, it would mean that your page ranks the highest.
Search engines have their set instructions, called an algorithm, that decide the sequence of the pages that would answer your query. The ranking of these pages, called the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP), is based on different factors that determine their ranking.
A search engine follows a set of steps to provide the user with the desired and most appropriate results:
- Crawling: It is a process that search engines use to visit and download a page and pull out its links. This is done to discover additional links. Crawling/spidering software are used to accomplish this task.
- Indexing: It is a process of identification of words that optimally describe a page and then assigning those pages to specific keywords. Mainly an index creation for all the fetched websites and storing them to be retrieved at a later date.
- Processing: It essentially means the comparison of the search string in the requested search with the pages that have been indexed.
- Relevance Calculation: When a search request is made, there would be multiple pages containing the search string. When this happens, search engines calculate the relevance of each page in its index to the search string.
- Page Ranking: The last step in this is culling out the best match results for the query. And, it is those results that users see on their screen. Simply put, when you put a query, a search engine, most significant websites are retrieved from the index and appear as your search result. Various factors like language, user location, and experience combine to determine these results.
Key Metrics Used by Search Engines
Now that we have discussed the basics of how a search engine functions, the next step is to know about a search engine’s metrics. These metrics measure the ability of a search engine to retrieve and rank appropriate responses to a query posed by a user.
Following are the key metrics used by search engines that affect the website ranking is:
- Links: There would have been times when a particular article took you to a different page by clicking on one of the links mentioned within it. Such links are called backlinks. These backlinks are like a vote of confidence in quality and authenticity. Why would anyone mention your link if they are not confident about your page? The more times a link is mentioned as a backlink, the better the rating.
- Content: The quality of content is also a critical factor in determining the rank. A content that is distinctive and applicable to a user’s query ensures a higher ranking.
- Page Structure: The inclusion of important search keywords, URLs, and meta tags ensure that your site becomes crawlable. This would enhance the HTML coding of your page. This in turn helps the search engines to better evaluate your page. A good evaluation results in a higher ranking.
Factors that Influence Ranking
- Relevance: Amongst all the other factors that influence the ranking of a page, relevance is the most critical. Your content needs to be relevant to the query posted to garner a higher ranking. Keep in mind the above-mentioned metrics to make your page relevant.
- Load time: The faster the load time for the end-user, the higher the chances of a better ranking
- Location of the End-User: The geographic location greatly impacts your search results. Two people searching for the same thing at two different points of the globe would end up getting different results. This is because the search engine’s indexing is being continuously updated resulting in different pages being shown at different points in time.
There is a lot of leg work that goes into ensuring that your query is met with the right kind of response from the search engine. This article is an attempt to familiarize you with the basics of the search engine working so that you could work towards improving the ranking of your web pages.