For anyone that wants to make a living that involves the internet, then one of the first (and most important) things you need to know is that 87% of people find what they are looking for online using search engines. Therefore, if you want to dip your cup into the biggest river of traffic possible… you need to know how search engines work.
Proprietary search engines like Google and Bing require incredibly sophisticated technologies and incredibly massive storage facilities to process and store information they collect from the web. However, most search engines are actually “metasearch engines”. These are search tools that actually aggregate information from several other search engines or databases and combine the results into a single list or displays them according to their source. Metasearch engines enable users to enter search criteria once and access several search engines simultaneously.
It starts with really simple programs called “Spiders” (they are also called “robots” and “bots”). Search engines send these spiders out to crawl around the Internet and collect lots of data about every single page that they find. The spiders return all of this information to data centers. Once the information is on their servers, search engines use algorithms to score the information.
Google dominates search with over 80% market share because their search algorithms are the most sophisticated and arguably they tend to produce the best search results. While Google is now using different algorithms for different types of searches, Google’s core search algorithm uses of over 200 ranking factors.
Search engine algorithms parse information from the source code of a webpage to determine the types of words and phrases that page is relevant to, how authoritative the page is based on the history of who is presenting the information, and how important that page is based on how much it has been talked about and linked to by other websites (among other factors we will discuss later). All of these equations produce scores and those scores help search engines categorize that content.
Then, when someone types a keyword or phrase into the search engine, the search engine is able to instantly deliver a list of relevant results because that information has already been indexed, scored, categorized and cached on Google’s servers, just waiting to be included on a search engine result page (SERP).
Most people are surprised to find out that search engines do not actually create result pages in real time. The majority of the work is already done and sitting in their databases, ready to be delivered in a myriad of different ways based on what someone types into the search engine.