How Search Engines Work There are many moving pieces in how search engines work and by learning about the most basic features and designs of these popular tools we can in turn sharpen our knowledge about search engine optimization (SEO). When it comes to search engine functionality there are three main parts that are important to the overall inner workings of these internet information portals. In its simplest interpretation a search engine accepts a user input, checks its syntax, identifies relevance to internal databases, returns recommended links, and provides organic results based on a variety of factors such as page content, usage data, link citations, reviews, online influence, social popularity and more.

Search engines handle three types of queries that can be used as search engine optimization (SEO) guidance which are informational, transactional and navigational. When related to the three basic foundations of how search engines work we can begin to form a much clearer picture on what exactly is happening after we type words into a browser box and click search. So what are the three most common aspects of popular search engines like Chrome (Google), Microsoft (Bing), and Yahoo? Let’s dissect search engine crawlers, indexers and algorithms to gain better insight into exactly how search engines work.

(SEO) Basics – How Search Engines Work #1: Crawlers

How a search engine crawler works is it grabs a series of URL’s to review and remember. The search engine crawler doesn’t rank web pages, it only retrieves copies of links which it stores for later indexing and ranking based on a variety of factors. Search engine crawlers are also savvy enough to follow URL’s they find on crawled web pages. They may visit these links as they discover them or will save them for later use. When a search engine crawler visits a website it generally requests a file called “robots.txt.” which tells the search engine crawler which files it can request, and which files or directories it’s not allowed to access. Search engine crawlers can come to websites many different times and with many different configurations to verify compatibility and stability and are smart enough to recognize page changes. While there are a wide array of search engine crawlers out there some of the more famous crawlers include Googlebot (from Google) MSNBot (from MSN) and Slurp (from Yahoo!). Allowing your site to be correctly crawled is critical to high quality search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

(SEO) Basics – How Search Engines Work #2: Indexers

How a search engine indexer works is it gathers, separates and stores data for later use. The goal of a search engine indexer is to maximize speed and performance in finding relevant data for a search string. Web indexing integrates merge factors, index sizes, storage techniques, fault tolerances, lookup speeds, and maintenance levels to create a usable search engine index architecture. By utilizing linguistics, cognitive psychology, mathematics, informatics, and computer science search engine indexers are able to build complex data structures that can be accessed at any time. When creating a search engine index considerations include index design factors, index data structures, parallelism, inverted indices, index merging, forward indexing and compression. Search engine crawlers are how the search engine indexers get information, stay updated and free of negative results. When it comes to data parsing a search engine indexer must be able to handle natural language processing, tokenization, language recognition, format analysis, section recognition, HTML priority and meta tag indexing. Mastering the basics of how search engines work is a perfect way to enhance your comprehension of search engine optimization (SEO).

(SEO) Basics – How Search Engines Work #3: Algorithms

How search engine algorithms work is they process and set procedures to follow in request problem-solving operations and calculations.  Search engine algorithms analyze designated core website characteristics such as content, internal links, external links, images, speed, structure, social media, keywords, mobile compatibility and much more to produce outputs most appealing to the user.  Through the trigger of sub-algorithms and formulas a search engine algorithm is able to weight important values in determining final answers to search strings. Search engine algorithms judge, filter, penalize and reward results based on specific criteria set by the creator.  From task algorithms, to organizing algorithms, to data algorithms there is a wide variety of functions and guidelines that merge together to form a complete search engine algorithm theory. Through the use of ratings and rankings a search engine algorithm is able to prioritize important values that respond to specific requests.  The search engine algorithm takes all the information passed along from crawlers and indexers and provides a system and method to extract that data into usable forms and formats. By understanding all the underlying parts to the basics of how search engines work we can begin to strengthen our grasp on the approaches needed to maintain optimal search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.

When it comes to internalizing the basics of how search engines work you will want to focus on three main components which are crawlers, indexers and algorithms. If you are interested in improving upon areas like search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and pay per click advertising (PPC) it is imperative to know the fundamentals of the foundations that drive them. Getting a feel for the behind the scenes basics of search engines will allow you to get the most out of how search engines view and interact with your website. A crawlers main job is to find URL’s, an indexers core task is to organize what the crawler discovers and an algorithms function is to interpret, decode, decipher and deliver search requests based on the crawlers and indexers collections of data. Regardless of how you are using the web, search engines will always remain a major element of the equation and the more you get the basics the better off you are navigating the world wide web for whatever your goals may be.