Search engines are those that give you results based on your keywords. They trawl the web go through several data points so that information can be made available in the fraction of a second. Access to instant information is based on enormous system of data retrieval and software.

Among various search engines available; Google is one of them and is popular and so here we will take the example of Google. Search engines basically perform two tasks:

  • Index information: Discover and store information of up to 30 trillion individual pages on the World Wide Web.
  • Return Results: Through the complete sophisticated series of algorithms and machine learning; one can identify and display to the searcher the pages that are most relevant to search query.

Crawling and indexation:

How Google is able to find 30 million web pages? Google goes on crawling the web; page by page. A software programme called crawler also known as robot or spider begins with initial set of web pages.

To get the crawler started; human enters a seed i.e. set of pages that gives web crawler the content and links to index and follow Google’s crawling software known as Googlebot. The crawler for Yahoo is known as Slurp.

When the page is encountered by robot then it captures the information on that page including textual content as well as HTML code that renders the page, information about how the page is linked to and the pages to which it links.

As Googlebot crawls; it finds more and more links. The image below shows simplistic diagram of single, three page crawl path which is as follows:

Search Engines Work

The logo shows starting point at the site’s homepage where Google bot finds 184 links; out of which 10 are visible. When Googlebot follows single keyword i.e. Acrylic Paints and Mediums; for that single word Googlebot gets 135 links out of which 10 are shown here.

When Googlebot follows the link to another page then it gets 108 more links. Like this way; crawlers keep on accessing the pages via links on each page they discover. In the process of crawling websites; bots encounter the same links repeatedly.

Let’s say; links in the header and footer section must be on every page. Instead of recrawling the content in same visit; Googlebot just notices the relationship between the two pages based on that link and move on to the next unique page.

Returning Search Results:

Results are displayed once you search something for search engine. Every web page displayed is known as a search result and the order in which results are displayed is known as ranking. Once the information is crawled and indexed then how will Google decide what to show in search results.

How a search engine decides what to display is known as algorithm. Every search engine uses proprietary algorithms which are designed to pull the most relevant information from its indices as quickly as possible. For instance; Google Search Quality Senior strategist confirmed that Google’s top three search ranking factors are content, links and Rank Brain; a machine learning artificial intelligence system.

Content determines the contextual relevance. Words on a page along with content inside it in which they are used and to pages they are linked to shows how content must be stored in the index and which search queries it might respond to.

Links show authority and relevance along with providing pathway for crawling and discovering new content. Links also serve as authority signals. Authority is determined by measuring signals related to relevance and quality of pages linking to each individual page.

Search engine algorithms combine hundreds of signals with machine learning to determine the match between the context of each page as well as authority and searcher’s query to serve the page of search results.

Page needs to be among top seven to 10 most highly matched pages algorithmically. It is for both contextual relevance and authority to be displayed on first page of search results.

Take Away:

Now, you are aware about the working of search engines. This might have given you a clear idea as to what you must do to get ahead among search results.

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