Search Engines, and the role SEO plays
Everyone who uses the Internet has used a Search Engine. It’s nearly impossible not to. Google, the leading Search Engine, has practically integrated itself into the English Language; it’s not uncommon to swap the words ‘search’ and ‘google’ (don’t know something? Just Google it!) when talking about using a search engine. The other leading search engines are Yahoo, and Microsoft’s latest incarnation, Bing, but there are countless others. Search Engines generally work the same way, but we’ll use Google for example:
Google deploys programs that scour the Internet. These programs are often called Spiders or Bots (short for Robots). As they crawl across the Internet, they save the text and code they find, follow links, and send the raw content back to Google.
- Google’s automated infrastructure processes all of this data and runs it through complex algorithms to decide how important it is. Google uses more than 200 factors to rate content, and minor tweaks are made to this nearly every day. Google (and the other search engines) don’t release exactly how their algorithms work, although there are plenty of standards that clearly work.
- The bots constantly go back and check sites for changes, and if they find changes, they make a note to check back a little faster. For some sites, they are visited every month or two, while other sites are visited daily.
- Search Engines rank your content differently. For Google, it wants to see content that makes sense. It ‘reads’ the entire internet, so it knows who links to you, and how important their site is. If an important site links to your site, Google favors you, where sites that aren’t ranked highly don’t increase Google’s ranking for you.
After processing all of that data that the Bots collect, when a Google Search is made, this huge database of data is quickly scanned and the results are generated in a fraction of a second and displayed with the most ‘important,’ ‘relevant’ listings for the terms you searched for.
Results aren’t ever manually adjusted by Google, Google Employees, or anyone in the world. It all depends on your site’s content, who is linking to you, and a plethora of other factors. Google’s algorithms generally prefer content that reads well, as opposed to content that looks like it is heavily optimized to try to rank the site higher.
Google is the #1 most popular search engine, and they’ve earned that in part by providing very relevant search results. Other search engines want to be the best, so it only makes sense for them to follow suit. If a site is ranked highly on Google, there’s usually a good chance the other search engines will favor it as well.