A lot of things about your business depend on whether it’s visible on search engines or not. At times, you’d want to understand how search engines work—since they greatly determine your success. However, it can be a real challenge to figure out how search engines function—and you are not alone in this.
Today, there is a complete industry that’s been trying to understand which websites or pages rank for which reasons. But one thing that you should note is that—the information that we know about all this is ever-changing.
It can be a challenge to get extensive information on how Google algorithms function for your site. However, this article will give you some simple information about how search engines function—and this information can assist in making things clearer for you.
The following are a few things that you should be aware of.
The Goals of a Search Engine
So, how do search engines work? Their main goal is to provide the best possible and relevant results for what a person is searching for online. In terms of natural results, search engines are not concerned about how much, as a website owner, you want to rank better or think that you deserve the top position. Searching engines only care about the searchers, and nothing else.
By making available the information that searchers need, search engines make sure that those searchers keep returning back to use the website again. This has worked perfectly for Google, as most people use the search engine every day.
The primary goal of search engines leads to the secondary goal, which is to generate profits for the company—making money via ads. For a business to advertise on a search engine, it has to pay since they know that search engines have a huge number of online traffic. So long as Google continues to keep people satisfied and coming back for more information, advertisements will keep on making the company profitable.
Therefore, the main concern of the search engine is to ensure that the results it gives offer the most useful and relevant information for the user’s query. Now, this is where thing begins to get complicated.
Search Engine Index
It’s the job of a search engine to identify the right page for each possible search query. If that’s not the case, it has to come as close as possible to the right page. For this to be possible, the search engine must have a record of all the possible pages online, together with the understanding of the content on each page. To that, search engines have created a gigantic index of web pages.
The main purpose of this index is to identify and plant every site and page on the internet, in a manner that allows it to connect between the keywords that users search for and the content on every page.
And above all that, search engines must be able to allocate relative quality to the different web pages that discuss the same topic. The major challenge with this is that it’s being done by machines. That’s the reason why most people have a challenge in agreeing to what makes “quality” content. However, search engines must determine it depending on several factors that machines can determine objectively.
The first and major challenge of making a search engine index is to identify every web page out there. Web crawlers are responsible for this task. Every time a web crawler finds a web page, it crawls the page and then collects all the relevant information on the page needed for the page to be indexed in the search engine. When that page is indexed, web crawlers use all the links on that web page to search for new web pages to crawl.
As a website owner, you can speed up this process of getting your website crawled by search engines by using internal linking and submitting a site map. Now, this is the easy part of getting your website indexed.
Search Engine Algorithms
Assigning a relative value to all web pages is the second challenge of search engine index, and it’s even more complicated than the first one. Now, if a web crawler discovers 50,000 pages with content that seems relevant to a particular search term, how does the search engine determine in what order to deliver these results?
This is where search engine algorithms come in. Search engines have invested a lot of resources in terms of money and time developing an algorithm that relies on several factors when assigning relative value to web pages and websites.
Even though there are several ranking factors that determine the reasons why one web page will rank over the others, we shall discuss some of the most essential ranking factors that search engines like Google and others put into consideration. It’s important to note that there are many ranking factors, more that we can summarize, but we shall give you the most important ones.
These factors include:
- Links – these are the most essential ranking factors, particularly external links (links that direct one site to another), since each time a website links to your site, it shows Google that your site if offering something valuable or authoritative. Now, if your site has many other sites linking to it, and then it links to another website, that link has more value because of the authority of the linking website. Although every other factor in this list is important, a lot of the factors that determine the ranking of a site depend on the quality and number of links that point to a site.
- Age of the website – search engines consider older websites to be more authoritative and trustworthy than new websites.
- Keywords – the goal of search engines is to provide the most relevant and useful search results. Because of this, search engines look for certain terms on a page that are related to the search query of the user. The more relevant keywords you use on your page, the more it shows search engines that your page has relevant content.
- Mobile usability – today, Google continues to emphasize the importance of making a website mobile-friendly, and this is one of its ranking factors. May be your site functions well on desktop, but you haven’t optimized it for mobile use—what you should note is, this can affect your search engine result page rankings.
- Page speed – online users are always impatient, and so are search engines too. Websites with pages that load slowly will have lower rankings because of these pages.
- Behavioral data – there is something that most don’t know—Google is always tracking what online users do whenever they land into your page. If they click and then leave the page immediately, it’s an indication that your page didn’t give them whatever they were searching for. However, if they spend more time on the page, or even click through to another page on your once they get to your website, it’s an indication that the site offers value, and this can have positive effects on your ranking.
Search engines usually give out some information about the factors that determine the ranking of a website or page. However, they don’t give much information about how their algorithms function. The reason behind this is that they don’t want users to try to manipulate these algorithms for better rankings, and this is something that search engines have been battling with for a long time.