Today, search engines are perhaps the most important tools to browse through the web. After installing a web browser, the next logical step is always to go to the search engine to ask for help regarding any topic. So it is important to for all web site owners, webmasters, SEOs and in fact all the users of internet to understand and know how search engines work.

In this article we give a complete detail about how search engines work. However first let us clarify, search engine does not mean Google. Google is one of the many search engines available.

Popular search engines in the world

Usually the word search engine is considered a being synonymous to Google, however there are a number of other search engines in the world too. Here are some of the popular search engines and their market shares.

how search engines work

Google

Google has by far the biggest market share in world of search engines. More than seventy percent of all searches are powered by Google. Google is a very efficient search engine. Billions of pages are indexed by Google search engine and it will give you excellent results once queried. It is popular around the globe unlike many other search engines that are popular in their country of origin.

Baidu

It is the most popular and widely used search engine in China. It deals with over a billion search queries within a month. Currently its Alexa ranking is number 4.

Yandex

It is a Russian search engine and very popular in the country. It is also considered to be quite efficient and resourceful.

Bing

Bing is the search engine from the IT powerhouse of Microsoft however it is being eclipsed by the popularity of much more efficient Google. Few years ago Microsoft announced to restructure and reconstruct Bing’s search algorithm to make it better but it did not result in much improvement.

So these are some of the search engine. You might be familiar with them or some of them. There are others too. To know more about search engine available check out the article here Search Engines available on the web

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Now let us move back to the working of the search engine.

How search engines work

how search engines work

All search engines have an algorithm running behind the scene like all other computer software. The algorithm is known as a spider or a crawler as it crawls through all the web pages. It is also commonly called the robot. It will keep all the pages cataloged and then return the results when required. But how does it know which pages to return for which queries and what is the criteria for the arrangement of the search engine results page. Well to answer these questions let us look at each of the six steps that the search engines go through and that will make you understand how search engines work.

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There are basically six steps that all search engine go through.

  1. Discover
  2. Analyze
  3. Index
  4. Receive query
  5. Relevancy check
  6. Return best results

Discover

how search engines work

 

New web pages are being added to the expanding WWW universe every day. So how will the robots know about your newly created page, how will your page be discovered? Well the answer is through links. When other websites will link to your page the crawler will crawl to your page too. However if you are worried that your newbie site has not links to it, and how to make it Prominent in the eyes of the robot, well you can submit your site to the Google webmaster. Submitting the site through the webmasters was the only way of pages discover in earlier times but today having links pointing to your site is much quicker and effective way to making your site somewhere in the search engine results.

Analyze

how search engines work

In this phase, the search engine will analyze what this page is about. As we all know that the internet is an explosive repository of information filled to the brim. The search engine cannot just index the page blindly. It will categorize it according to what its own understanding is about the content of the page. It will then made a decision about indexing of the page.

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Index

how search engines work

After the analysis of the page the search engine will then index the pages and save the results in a tree like structure. This indexing should be very organized and efficient because it will later determine how quickly the search engine will then retrieve the results when user wants them. Today the results of many popular queries are saved and stored beforehand, although they are updated. So when the user will make a query, of course the robot will not look through all the indexed pages to get the proper results. It is intelligent enough to find the correct subset of data to look into. That is one of the reasons behind the speed and agility of the Google search engine.

Receive query

The user can invoke the query via the search engines opened in web browsers. Most web browsers also support the functionality to search directly however, there is always a search engine algorithm working from behind. There are many different ways to write queries in an effective way which will give you a better result.

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Relevancy check

This is one part of the how search engines work that keeps hundreds of website owners and SEO professionals baffled and worried all the time. How does the algorithm determines which pages are most relevant to a query and what will be the best results to show on the front page. Websites and blogs spend thousands of dollars every year to get to the top of the search engine results page. The traffic that you receive directly from people coming to your page from search engine results is called organic traffic. And organic traffic is the most valuable asset for any blog or website. This the reason why the relevancy checks by the search engine algorithms baffles people. According to some reports Google search engine have more than 200 factors on which it evaluates and ranks the pages in its results.

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Returns the best results

how search engines work

So after all the above steps, the list of pages ranked in order of the relevancy according the specific algorithm is obtained. Because of the competition and too much demand of traffic, the search engines have also started to get money from people to be featured on the first page of their results. These are considered as the sponsored links and the traffic generated from these paid links is not considered as organic traffic.

It  is very difficult to get to the top of the search engine results page and the whole field of SEO has been developed just to achieve that. That is why the search engines keep the ranking factors of their algorithms as a top secret.

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So this was briefly about how search engines work. Hopefully after going through the article of how search engines work you can now understand how much effort is going on behind a single search query processing. As we get the results in the blink of an eye it is difficult to fathom that there will be so much going on behind the scenes but that is the beauty and efficiency of the search engines.

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Which search engine do you usually use? Are you satisfied with the results? Let us know by commenting below.

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