In this article, I am going to look at how search engines work in particular what are known as spiders.
But, as a business person I can hear you asking – why do I care?

The importance to you is that the search engines are where your site will be found when people go looking for solutions. The key thing to bear in mind is that you must be on page 1 of Google to have any chance of potential customers finding your pages and then becoming real customers.

All the search engines use programs that are known as “spiders” to look at and analyze your web pages. The spider crawls around the internet and on a regular basis will look at your site and will be looking at 4 main areas:

1. Links – the spider will look at how many other pages have links that lead to your page.
2. Quality of links – once the spiders have found a link they determine the quality of the link by looking at the page where the link originates and determine the quality of that page.
3. Content – the engines want the page to have good quality relevant information. They need to see that the site is a real site in that it has content that is up to date and is updated or changed on a regular basis.
4. Keywords – the spider looks at the keywords associated with the page (these are stored in the HTML) and then that the content on the page is relevant to those keywords. The keywords are recorded in the HTML meta-tags, the page title, and the content of the page.

The spider gathers all this information and puts it together into a package that is sent back to the search engine. On receipt, a series of complex algorithms analyze the package and then determine where in the rankings your web page will appear. This ranking can and will change on a regular basis.

To ensure you keep your ranking you need to make sure your site is active and has new content on a regular and frequent timescale.

The spiders don’t just visit your site once they will return on a regular, but unknown, basis just so they can see what you have changed on your site, and then they will start the indexing process all over again.

The information sent back by the spiders will enable the algorithms to look at the way your web pages are linked to other pages not only on other web site but also within your own site and will score each page accordingly. It is crucial that you remember that the algorithms can mark your page down as well as up – if you have too many internal links they may think you are trying “fix” the rankings and penalize you.

So, taking all that information into account when someone enters an inquiry into the search engine it will look through all the information it has collected about all the web pages and determine which pages to show and in what sequence. You should also remember that if you type the same query into 2 different search engines you will get 2 different answers.

Search engines work to ensure that you can get relevant answers to your questions when you ask them.

If you found this article interesting or have any questions then please leave a comment below.

    2 replies to "How Search Engines Work"

    • Derek Barrington

      Hello Mike,

      Search engines up until now have always been a mystery to me. The way you have explained the work of the spiders has given me a new insight as to what I need to be doing to improve my ranking.

      Thank you very much for this explanation. I will certainly be changing what I do in the future.

      • Mike

        Hi Derek,
        Glad you found it useful. Is there anything else you would be interested in reading about?

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