How Search Engines Work in 2021
The 33rd president of America? Oops I need to Google that because I don’t know! The reigning IBF Welterweight Champion? A minute please, I need to Google that! Google and other search engines are practically our assistants. Search engines have almost become part of our lives. We are so used to search engines that we can almost not imagine what life without search engines was like. We use search engines for literally everything. From getting directions to digging for information, there is literally nothing you can find on the search engines.
Before search engines, finding information on the internet was not only inefficient but very cumbersome. This however was changed by the invention of a program that could act as a worldwide web resource discovery tool which was able to combine crawling, indexing and searching providing us with information that we needed. This first happened back in 1994 in the form of WebCrawler which is regarded as the first search engine. This was followed by a number of other upcoming search engines like Magellan, AltaVista, Excite and Yahoo. Although they were all doing a pretty good job in providing search results, it is not until early 2000s that we saw the most effective search engine called Google, storm into the scene. Google rose to power because of their new easy to navigate interface and a new PageRank tool which yielded in better results.
Although almost everyone in the world uses search engines to get information, very few people actually understand how the search engines like Google work. To understand how these search engines work, we talked to one of the most prolific Google partners in America. Tony Guo is a SEO expert who knows almost everything about the dynamics of search engines and the web at large. We asked him to explain to us how search engines work, and he had this to say;
How Search Engines Work
When one performs a search query in any search engine, you are normally provided with thousands and thousands of results. More often than not, all the results that you get are actually relevant to the query that you searched for. Once in a while, the search engines don’t provide as accurate information but they at least provide some results even if the results are not relevant. Rarely do search queries result in zero results on search engines. Having said this, a good number of people can help but wonder how search engines find the relevant web pages that match your query? How do they rank the information that they provide to you? Well, here is how Google and the other search engines do it;
The web is like an encyclopaedia. A very large book with an index of all the information contained in the book. When you perform a search on the search engine, you are literally looking through the index of this ‘encyclopaedia’. Search engines have special intuition which is artificial intelligence that peruse through the index and match your query with the most appropriate chapter of the encyclopaedia and provide search results that make sense to you. This is a three step process that involves crawling, indexing and serving results.
Crawling is a self-initiated process by the search engines which help them discover new and updated pages that need to be added to the existing index. This is done by a program designed by search engines. Google’s program that crawls the information from billions of pages is called ‘Googlebot’. It monitors every link on the web and scans all the information contained on the resulting web page and brings the information back to the search engine’s servers for indexing.
Indexing- this is the process by which all the information fetched/crawled from the web is compiled into a massive index of all the words and locations of each given web page. This means that the search engines literally know where to find a certain page containing the keyword that you are looking for.
Serving results- this is the most important part as far as any user is concerned because this is where you get the results of what you searched for. When you type a query, Google crawls through its index and serves you with the results which are ranked according to relevance. The search engine determines relevance using an algorithm which is a set of rules that determines the significance and relevance of a web page in relation to the query a user searches. Each search engine has its own unique algorithm and this perhaps explains why Google has been so successful as a search engine- their algorithm is undoubtedly the best in the business.
Google’s algorithm has over 200 factors that it uses to rank and award relevance. Google also spearheaded the use of universal search where they always attempt to provide the users with the most relevant results regardless of the media type. Their universal search algorithm lets the search engine provide images, maps, news, videos, blog posts and even social media results into their results pages.
And that my friends, is how search engines work! For more information on search engines and SEO, contact Tony Guo and get the most out of your campaigns and understand the dynamics of the web even better.