What is a search engine?
A search engine is an online tool that searches for results in its database based on the search query (keyword) submitted by the internet user. The results are usually websites that semantically match with the search query.
Search engines find the results in their database, sort them and make an ordered list of these results based on the search algorithm. This list is generally called the search engine results page (SERP).
There are many search engines on the market, while the most widely used is Google. Many website browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge usually come with a default search engine set as a home page or starting page.
How search engines work
There may be some differences in how the search engines work but the fundamentals remain the same. Each of them has to do the following tasks:
- Creating results
Search engines have their own crawlers, small bots that scan websites on the World Wide Web. These little bots scan all sections, folders, subpages, and content, everything they can find on the website. Crawling is based on finding hypertext links that refer to other websites. By parsing these links, the bots are able to recursively find new sources to crawl.
Once the bots crawl the data, it’s time for indexing. The index is basically an online library of websites. Your website has to be indexed in order to be displayed on the search engine results page. Keep in mind that indexing is a constant process. Crawlers come back to each website to detect new data.
3. Creating results
Search engines create the results once the user submits a search query. It’s a process of checking the query against all website records in the index. Based on the algorithm, the search engine picks the best results and creates an ordered list.
What is a search engine algorithm?
A search engine algorithm is a unique formula that determines how the websites are sorted in the search engine results page. It’s a trademark of each search engine; therefore, it’s kept secret.
The algorithm is a mixture of various ranking factors. You will find many articles dealing with the “real” Google ranking factors. The truth is that even when you know what the factors are, you don’t know their exact weights.
The most important ranking factor of all search engines should be the relevancy. The main goal of search engines is to find what the internet user is looking for.
When it comes to Google, the major ranking factors are:
- Website/content relevancy
- Strength and relevancy of backlinks
Some of the other very important ranking factors are:
- Page speed
- Social signals
- Overall domain authority
- Mobile optimization
- Content structure and optimization