Posted on Jul 22, 2015

How To Understand Search Engines

From the outside looking in, it can seem like search engines are a maze of technical weirdness, only to be understood by the top geeks. But when you dive in a bit more, you’ll realize that search engines are as simple (and sometimes as awkward) as the dating scene. Yes, understanding how search engines work is analogous to finding your soul mate. It can be a life-long journey filled with frustration and hope. But when you settle into the idea that search engines are meant to find you and your business, getting new prospects comes with ease.

Here is some information on how search engines work so that you can build your business and be seen online (anything that appears as dating advice is entirely accidental):

Find the Best Match

There’s something called a web crawler that browses websites to index them. For Google and the other search engines to find you, you’ll need crawling websites (this does notmean that you should crawl on your hands and knees to greet your date. That would be awkward). When a search engine knows that your website exists, it will send a bot to scan all of the information on your pages and bring that information back to its index. The search bot will also follow all the links on your page.

The next step in the process is indexing your website (similar to deciding on who you might date). Google examines what it finds on your website, and indexes it. Just like a discerning individual in the dating scene who doesn’t date every potential candidate (especially the weirdos who crawl to greet you), Google does not index every page that it crawls.

Narrow Your Options

After you “crawl” the options of the web, the next stage is to actually decide who matters. In the world of search engines, narrowing down your options is known as links. Google can’t (yet) ask its friends whether a web page is high-quality or not. But it can look at the websites that link to it, which represents whether or not it’s a high-quality website. Google looks at the number of links of a particular web page, and the quality of the websites that are linking.

Narrowing your options and deciding which websites matter is about finding the perfect match. Search engines scour the internet for the best possible pages on the internet for the question that gets asked into the search.

When Things Go Wrong

When things go wrong on the internet, it’s called “spam.” Google tries to fight spamthrough a combination of computer algorithms and manual review. Unfortunately many website owners don’t realize that gaming the system to get good rankings only hurts them in the long-term. When you use integrity and follow the best practices to help Google find, index, and rank your website, you’ll have a better chance of being more visible in search.

The bad news is that even if you’re not involved in illicit practices, they still affect you. This is why search engines have implemented a whole raft of measures to weed out the weak pages, cheats and liars. Make sure that you follow the rules to make sure that you’re not wrongly indexed.

Find a “Search Mate”

Putting this all together in search means making sure that:

  • Your website is visible to search engines so they can crawl it
  • You have great content on the website that users want
  • You construct your pages properly with metadata, appropriate use of keywords, and other basic SEO standards
  • You promote your pages to get links

Understand how search engines work to get better rankings for your website. Make sure that your website is crawlable, narrow your options, and address any issues that arise so that search engines can find you and your business. And remember this: the search process is only as awkward as you make it. Happy searching!