How Do Search Engines Work?

Understanding how search engines work can help make sense of SEO and how to use it to your advantage.

An Introduction to Search Engines

Search engines are used to find, index and retrieve information on the World Wide Web or Internet. Whilst we may take them for granted today, without the likes of Google, Bing or Yahoo it would be impossible to find anything out there in hyperspace.

Search engines have come a long way since their conception and work by using complex algorithms to decipher information from billions of websites to provide us with the most relevant option to match our search queries.

Google is by far the most popular and well-known search engine, so much that the word google is now used as a verb and ‘to google’ or ‘googling’ is part of our everyday language. Started in 1998 by two college students in America, the name Google originated from a misspelling of Googol. Today, Google still has around a 70% share of the search market, with Bing and Yahoo at 17% and 13%.

So how do search engines work? They crawl through websites collecting data using ‘spiders’ or ‘bots’ which visit and read each page just like a person but really quickly. They look at specific items such as page titles, images, content, keywords and what links to a particular page to get an understanding of what the page is regarding.

The search engines then store this all the crawled data and the massive task of indexing begins. Finally, having ordered the information they retrieve and rank this according to the search query entered.

This is where SEO comes in as a way to inform search engines about a page so they have the right data to rank it accurately. Good search engine optimisation will help a search engine to work out quickly whether a certain page is relevant to a particular query or keyword. SocialB are experts in SEO, please contact us for further details.

Over the years search engines have become so much more sophisticated. Many people have tried to shortcut SEO or use ‘black hat’ tactics to fool search engines. These may work for a short time but invariably fail as the search engines are constantly updating and refining their algorithms to provide the most relevant information possible.