How Search Engines (Like Google) Work

In order to search for your targeted information, the search engine performs two major functions: to crawl and build an index and to provide the search users with a ranked list of all relevant websites. With these functions, search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo are able to find relevant information to present to users.

1. Crawling and Indexing

Think of the World Wide Web as like a network full of stops in a subway system within the city. Every stop in the subway corresponds to a unique document like a web page, JPG, PDF, or other files. The search engines have to “crawl” and pass by all the stops in the entire city so they make use of the best path available, which are the links.
The search engine has crawlers or another name they go by might be spiders that browse the World Wide Web in order to index every available web page on the internet. These crawlers look at the web pages and follow the links on the pages, just like how you browse the content on the web. They pass on from link to link and bring all the data about the web pages back to the search engine (Google) servers.  Crawlers go after a list of web addresses made from past crawls provided by the owners of the websites. These websites have links that are then used by crawlers to discover other pages.
As the search engines find all these pages, they analyze everything and store the selected pieces in huge databases, where they will get pages to be recalled at a later time as needed for a search query. The search engine companies have data centers throughout the world that hold these billions of pages that are accessed quickly.

2. Providing Answers

The search engine serves as an answering machine that provides all answers to your search query. When you do an online search, the search engine does 2 things: First of all, it returns all the relevant and useful information based on the searcher’s query. Second, it ranks these results based on the popularity of the sites. Thus, the procedure of search engine optimization (SEO) revolves around two things: relevance & popularity.

How does search engines like Google determine popularity and relevance?

When a person searches the web, the first thing the search engine does is determine which pages are related to the person’s query and which are not. It computes a relevance score between the query and the document.  However, to search engines, relevance is more than just looking for pages with the words you are searching for. Before, search engines didn’t go to a lot further than this. Over the years, new other factors were devised to match the results of searchers’ queries. Today, there are a lot more factors that influence the relevance of a certain search query.  Results within the search engine are typically based depending on how popular the site, page, or document is. The more popular the website is, the more valuable information it must contain.
Relevance and popularity are not determined manually as the search engines have algorithms to sort the relevancy of a certain search query and then rank it in terms of popularity. These algorithms make use of a lot of variables which are called ‘ranking factors’. The search engine works hard to provide valuable and relevant results in just a fraction of a second. Search engines make use of different algorithms that is why there is a difference in the results between Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

How do Search Marketers succeed?

Every website owner wants to gain more traffic to their website. However, search engines provide only a little insight on how to achieve good results and gain more traffic. Below are best practices in order to optimize your content for better search results.

Guidelines for Search engine optimization (SEO) Information from Google

In order to get better results and gain more traffic, Google recommends to make your pages primarily for users, and not for search engines. Never deceive or present a different piece of content to search engines rather than you display to users. This practice is commonly called as “cloaking”. Create a site with text links and a clear hierarchy. You have to make sure your page is reachable with links. Make a page that contains useful and rich content. Your title elements and alt attributes should always be accurate and descriptive. In making URLs, make use of keywords that are descriptive and human-friendly.

Guidelines for Search engine optimization (SEO) Information from Bing

To get better rankings in Bing, you have to ensure a clean and a rich keyword URL structure.  Be sure that your content on your page is not buried inside rich media like Adobe Flash Player, Ajax, or Javascript. Also, make sure that they do not hide some links from crawlers. Create a content that is keyword rich and that match the keywords of the search query. It is important to generate keywords related to your content. Make use of online tools that can generate traffic estimates. Also, be sure to produce a fresh content on a regular basis. Do not hide your text inside images. In case you want something to be indexed, do not display it inside a certain logo or image.


These tips are just some of the things search engines look for in order for you to get better results and traffic. Over 15+ years, search marketers have found out more methods in order to extract information on how these search engines rank results. Marketers and SEOs make use of these in order to help their content reach better positioning. With the right ways and techniques, internet marketers can focus on driving better traffic to targeted users and areas across the internet. They make use of search engine marketing in order to generate new leads, build their brand, sell products, and redirect traffic from their competitors. Knowing how search engine marketing works can produce effective results that can make a substantial difference in your revenue. It takes a lot of time to improve your search rankings but applying the best methods will surely give you a good traffic and better results.