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How Search Engines Work

In this article we are going to be take a look at how search engine work and what they are looking for in order to get top (page 1) rankings in the search results.  We will be going over the most popular search engines individually but the basic principles are the same for all of them.

Before you begin the task of optimizing your website for search engines it is important to have an understanding of how they work.  It would be almost impossible to optimize a website and achieve top search engine rankings without having some idea as to how they work and what is a search engine is trying to do when it ranks a site.  It will also save you a lot of time and effort since you will know where to focus your efforts.  If you know what a search engine is looking for your job is going to be that much easier.

The first step is to know how a search engine will “read” and index a website.  This process allows a search engine scan the content of a site to find out what that site or page is all about.  This is done using search engine spiders (or robotic software) which crawls a website or webpage.  Crawling is simply the term used to description how a search engine reads a site. How often your site will be crawled will depend on how often your content is added or updated and the number of links pointing to your site or importance.  So how do they find your site in order to be able to crawl it.  Links!  Search engine spiders follow links from other sites that are pointing to yours.

If you’ve ever looked into optimizing your site before you have probably come across an e-mail of site that offered “…submission to 1000’s of search engines with guaranteed inclusion”.  Avoid these search engine submission forms and sites like the plaque.  They are a waste of time and money.  That’s because you don’t need them.  You can get your site indexed in Google in a few days by posting your site’s link on websites that are indexed often.  Sites to look at are article or news sites.  Being indexed though does not mean ranking on page 1 as that will take some more effort but having your site indexed will let the search engine know you exist and start having your site crawled. 

Search engines use links and content to rank web pages.  This is a very important to take note of.  I said web pages and not websites.  This means that you can rank a site for multiple keyword phrases.  Next time you do a search take note of the page that the search engine is sending you to.  It not always the home page.  Having the ability to target and optimize web pages for different keyword phrases gives your site multiple points of entry.  It is important to keep this in mind so that when you create new pages on your site you know that visitors may enter through this new page and never see you home page.  If your home page contains all of your call to action content you may want to include it on other pages of your site.

Knowing how a search engine works and what they are looking for will greatly improve the success of the optimization campaign.

About Emma Gilbert

Working in the marketing industry since 2002. This blog is one of my hobbies.