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Search Engines Decoded

“The Basics of Search Engines”

Let’s dive into the heart of what search engines are all about, why they were created, and how they bring in the big bucks.

What the heck are search engines?

Imagine a massive database of web content, all waiting for you to search and discover. That is what search engines are – a combination of:

  • A Search Index – A digital library that holds information on all the webpages out there.
  • Search Algorithms – Computer programs designed to match your search query to the best results from the index.

What is the goal of search engines?

Every search engine’s main aim is to give users the best, most relevant results. That’s how they stay ahead of the competition.

How do search engines make money? There are two types of search results you will see:

  1. Organic Results – Straight from the search index and cannot be paid for.
  2. Paid Results – Sponsored by advertisers, who pay each time someone clicks on their ad. This is called Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. The more users, the more ad clicks and revenue for the search engine. That’s why market share is crucial.”

Google’s Search Index: The Scoop

Here’s the deal: Google builds its search index in a few key steps. Let us dive in.

Sources: Google starts with a list of URLs. It finds these through backlinks, sitemaps, and URL submissions via Google Search Console.

Crawling: Googlebot, a computer bot, visits and downloads these known URLs.

Processing and Rendering: Google then works to understand the key info from crawled pages by rendering the page code to understand its appearance for users. Google keeps the details of this process under wraps, but it involves extracting links and storing content for indexing.

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Indexing: Processed information from crawled pages is added to the search index, which is what users search when using Google. Being indexed in search engines like Google and Bing is crucial, as users can’t find you unless you’re in the index.

FUN FACT: Google dominates the search engine market with 91.43% share. It drives more traffic than other search engines as it’s the most widely used.

Ranking Pages: The Search Engine’s Challenge

Crawling, indexing, and discovering content are just the first steps in the search engine’s quest. The real test lies in ranking relevant results when a user performs a search, and this is where search algorithms come in.

What are Search Algorithms? Think of search algorithms as formulas that match and rank results from the index that has been created. Google, for instance, uses multiple factors in its algorithms.

The Secret Sauce: Google’s Ranking Factors Google keeps its ranking factors close to the chest, so no one knows all of them. But we do have some key insight into a few of the major ones.

Backlinks: A Strong Indicator Backlinks, or links from one website to another, are one of Google’s top-ranking factors. This is why our study of over a billion pages showed a strong correlation between linking domains and organic traffic. [6]

Quality Over Quantity in Backlinks However, it’s not just about the number of backlinks. Pages with a few high-quality backlinks often outrank those with many low-quality ones.

Relevance: Importance of search result to the user. Google determines this through keywords & user interaction data.

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Freshness: Query-specific factor for new results. Stronger for recent content, e.g., new Netflix series.

Page Speed: Affects rankings on desktop & mobile, but negatively affects slow pages over positively impacting fast pages.

Mobile-first, baby! It has been a priority since 2019 when Google made the switch to mobile-first indexing. Both mobile and desktop search rankings now factor in a site’s mobile friendliness.”

Personalising Search Results with Google

Google customizes search outcomes for each user, leveraging data such as location, language, and previous search activity.

Location Matters: When conducting local searches, Google takes into account your location to display relevant results. For example, search results for “Italian Restaurant” are based on nearby dining options.

Language Recognition: Google understands the importance of displaying results in the language of the user, thus showing localized versions of content if available.

Tracking Search History: Google stores data of your online activity and places you visit, providing a more personalized search experience. Although you can opt out, most users do not.

In Summary:

Search engines are made up of two components: index and algorithms.

The index is created by crawling known pages and discovering new ones through links.

The goal of the algorithms is to provide the best and most pertinent results. Search result quality is crucial in acquiring market share. The specific ranking factors utilized by Google are unknown, but significant factors include backlinks, relevance, and freshness. Ultimately, Google personalizes its results based on location, language, and previous search history.

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