How Do Search Engines Work? SEO Guide 2023 - Volgum

How Do Search Engines Work? SEO Guide 2023 - Volgum
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  • Topic : SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Date : 10/7/2021 9:06:12 PM

What are search engines?

If you have a search question, you go to the Internet to find the answer on a search engine. A search engine pairs your search query with proper results. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are some examples of search engines.

Every search engine works with the help of two parts:

Search index - a collection of information containing millions of webpages
Search algorithms - for ranking and matching results by an index of search engines

What is the use of search engine algorithm?

Search engine algorithms act intensively on explaining search indexes and finding the most related and high quality results for search queries.

If you're wondering how Google Search works, so does the algorithm itself. For each search query, a search engine's job is to traverse Google's entire search index and find the most relevant indexed web pages that can provide the desired results for the user.

The user then clicks on one of the results showed. This action is recorded by these algorithms along with the rest of the activities performed by the users after clicking on the result page. This recording is then fed into the future learning of search engine algorithms, which helps them decide the best ranking to give to the webpage/website.

How do search engines work?

Search engines work on a mechanism that analyzes a webpage thoroughly. This mechanism has many elements such as URL enumeration, processing, rendering, and more. There are three steps to the process here.

- Crawling
Crawling is one of the first steps in a search engine recording URLs based on several factors. In the process, search engine crawlers, or bots, will visit the searched pages and download them. For example, Googlebot visits queued URLs and crawls them on a priority basis based on the following factors:

- URL's PageRank
- URL change frequency
- URL is new or not

This means that if your website consists of multiple web pages, search engines are likely to crawl some of them before others based on the above factors. Therefore, it often takes some time for the entire website to be completely crawled by the search engines.

- Indexing
Indexing is the stage where all the information processed by search engine bots from crawling is compiled and added to the search index. This search index is a digital library containing all the downloaded information from the crawling phase.

It is important for websites to be indexed because users get results once they type in a search query. If your webpage is not indexed by a search engine, it will not appear on its results page. Therefore, it is imperative that you get your website indexed on at least the most used search engines like Google.

- Ranking
After the crawl and index phase is over, the search engine processes all the aggregated information and ranks these web pages across different domains based on various factors. Take Google for example as it is currently the largest search engine.

Google uses over 200 factors to determine the ranking of web pages on the SERPs. Although Google has not disclosed the information about all these ranking factors, but we do know about some important factors, which are as follows:

Topical/Domain Authority
Page speed
Content Relevance

Google's algorithms render the webpages indexed, thoroughly analyze them based on 200+ ranking factors, and determine the SEO health of the webpages to rank suitably.

How do search engines rank pages?

- Page Relevance for Search Query
It is important that the relevance of any webpage to search queries is determined correctly in order to provide the desired results to the users. Google uses several methods to determine the relevance of pages.

Finding keywords in a search query is the most basic step in determining relevance to a page.

For example, Google uses broadly aggregated interaction data to determine whether search results will be related to a search query. Simply put, do users find the results on the SERPs useful?
A simple example of how this works is that if you type "window" on Google, the top results will be about the software and not the actual window. Google's algorithms know from their collection of interaction data that most users with "window" as the search query are looking for software-related content, not the actual window.

Google also uses the Knowledge Graph, which measures the relationship between search queries and entities like places, people, etc. The Knowledge Graph is a huge knowledge base of these entities and how they are related. For the search item "window", Google will use this technique to connect the dots and separate websites that have windows (products) and windows (software). This helps Google go above and beyond in increasing page relevancy.

Google takes this even further by displaying search results that may not have important keywords on their page from the search query. For example, if your search query is "computer app installation," some results may not have the word "computer" on their pages. However, after crawling these pages, Google may have determined that these pages contain frequently asked questions, help, or even relevant content related to products that may be helpful to search queries. 

- Proper on-page elements
On-page optimization is very valuable in the eyes of search engine algorithms. There are many, and each is independently assessed on its strengths. The most important on-page components that factor into ranking are:

Title and Meta Description Both title and meta description serve the purpose of representing your webpage on the search engine results page. They give information about your webpage to search engine bots to help them identify what type of content is on that page. They also serve to briefly tell users what page is going to urge them to click the link.

SEO-Friendly Design – The design of your web pages should be simple, clear and accessible to users and search engine bots alike. On-page usability must be seamless, and web pages must be accessible from any device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.).

- Content is important
The relevance of your webpage depends on how good and useful your content is. Content is important not only for providing value to your users, but also packing enough SEO-friendly content for search engines to rank your page high. For example, internal and external links used systematically in content can send a positive signal to search engine algorithms about the legitimacy of your content. Apart from this, keywords, backlinks, titles, subheadings, etc., all play a role in increasing your SERP ranking.

From the user's point of view, if the content is not giving them any value or engagement, then the relevance of the webpage will start to decline. To increase your domain authority, you need to create content that is easily digestible for your target audience. Therefore, it is imperative that your content is user friendly, SEO optimized and provides value to readers.

- Backlinks from official pages
Content and links are both very high on Google's list of ranking factors. Google uses PageRank, which measures the amount and quality of backlinks pointing to a webpage.

But don't make any mistake. Quantity is not the primary thing that matters here. Backlinks to different pages are of great importance. If your website has some high-quality backlinks from official websites, you can rank higher than your competition with many low-quality backlinks.
There are 5 primary elements that make a backlink good:

1. Link authority
2. Relevance
3. Placement
4. Anchor text
5. Destination.

Link authority and relevance are the two most important elements to make a backlink good.

If your page has backlinks from authoritative domains, this will have the most significant impact in building a good backlink. Official domains in the eyes of search engines are those that have many "votes" and relevant information on the topic. To discover the authorization of a website, you can check its domain rating, and URL rating. Both these ratings are between 0-100 on Ahrefs.

Similarly, if your website has backlinks from relevant websites, they will be considered high quality by search engines. Google sees it this way – if your website has backlinks to major websites with high relevance in content, it sends a positive signal to search engines that the information on your pages is of high quality. It works just like it does with humans in real life. You would prefer to rely on the recommendation of a good vet clinic from your vet friend rather than your chef friend. But if you want a good restaurant recommendation, you would prefer the latter.
If your backlinks cover both of these bases, search engines like Google will automatically record your pages as high-quality and relevant information, and thus, rank your pages higher.

Moreover, if your website also provides backlinks to good quality websites, it will also work in your favor by increasing the domain authority of your website and improving its ranking.

- Page speed matters
In today's era of fast internet speed, no one likes to wait more than 3-4 seconds for a website to load. Search engines know this too and keep a close watch on page loading speed.

For example, 37% of users will close your website if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. Your pages should be optimized for speed so that they don't take long to load to keep users from jumping. Taking just a few milliseconds off page loading speed can take you a long time.

PageSpeed ??Insights is a great tool that you can use to check the loading speed of your pages and gain valuable insights on what can be optimized to reduce loading times.
Core web vitals are made up of metrics that measure visual stability, loading performance, and interactivity of a website with users. Google started treating Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal from June 2023.

- Website mobile-friendliness
More than 65% of searches on Google are done on mobile devices. Since 2019, Google has rolled out mobile-first indexing for all websites. Therefore, the mobile-friendliness of a website has become one of the top-ranking factors. To check the mobile-friendliness of your website, you can use the mobile-friendly test tool from Google or generate a mobile usability report from GSC.

How do search engines answer questions?

- User search history
Users' search history is often stored in the form of cookies on their devices. Therefore, the easiest way to display personalized results to users is to rank the first clicked link higher the next time users perform the same search query. This practice is quite common and is effective if you have visited a page multiple times.

- User's device
If your website is optimized for a particular type of device, it may rank higher for search queries performed on that device. A simple example is that a page optimized for Android devices will rank higher on them than on iOS devices.

- User location
If your searches are considered local by Google, the search engine will show the most relevant local results. For example, if you search for "Family restaurants", Google will show a map list of local Family restaurants.

Using your location to show personalized results is the most effective way to provide valuable links to users. If you scroll down through the map list on the SERPs, you'll also find top-ranking personalized results from review websites like TripAdvisor or Zomato for the same search query.

- User's language
To make the results more personalized and helpful, Google shows you the results in your preferred language. So, if you search "youtube tutorial" in Spanish, Google will rank the result higher with the Spanish language.

If your website has the same pages in more than one language, you need to tell it to Google using hreflang, which is an HTML attribute. This feature lets Google know that one of your pages has multiple versions in different languages, which helps search engines display it based on the user's language.

- Google products
If there is a particular product in your search query, Google will display the relevant products at the top of the SERPs. For example, if you search for "t-shirts for women", the SERP will display products from various websites along with their prices at the top.

- Time to rank your website
Now that you've taken the first step in learning how search engines work, it's time to use this knowledge to rank your website higher. Take the help of an established SEO company like Infidigit and implement effective methods to rank your website organically higher. Contact us today to learn more.

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