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How do search engines work?

 Let's take a closer look at search engines and what are the most common ranking factors to focus on.

search engines.  How do search engines work?

How do search engines work?

Search engines consist of three main components, namely:


 Crawling websites and the World Wide Web.


 Index all crawled sites and put them in tables and databases.

Pick results:

After indexing the global and local sites, they are categorized and arranged to select the appropriate results for each search query.

The whole process is done as follows:

How search engines work


Crawling is done by crawlers or spiders (robots), which means scanning the site, its sections, content, keywords, titles, hyperlinks and images by thousands of small robots. Any data that can be found on the website is crawled, not just your sites but millions of websites.

The crawlers discover all hypertext links on a website that point to other websites. Then they analyze those pages for new links over and over. Bots regularly crawl the entire Internet to update data.


Once a website is crawled, indexing takes place. Imagine a catalog as a giant catalog or a library full of sites from all over the world. Indexing a website usually takes some time. From our experience, 1 to 10 days.

What is SEO

You can check which pages of your site have already been indexed with this search operator: site:domain.com

Advice from a seo expert.

Moreover, every time it is changed, our good friend crawler scans it again. Keep in mind that until updates are indexed on the website, they will not be visible in search engines.

Choose results

The results are critical for both developers and users. As soon as an Internet user submits a search query, the search engine drills into the index and pulls up the matching results. It is a process to check the query against billions of websites based on different algorithms.

The companies that operate the search engines (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!) keep the exact calculations of their algorithms secret. However, many of the ranking factors are well known.

ranking factors

Most of these factors have been proven, but some are just guesses or even myths. Moreover, some of them are more important than others. Cyrus Sheppard from Zyppy made a nice list of Google ranking factors.

You don't have to know all the ranking factors by heart to master SEO, but it's a good idea to have at least a basic overview.

Google Ranking Factors - Search Engine Optimization

Google Ranking Factors - Search Engine Optimization

One of the most important factors, backlink profile depends on the number and quality of backlinks that lead to your site. It's a very simplified way of Google bringing the authority of a website. Each backlink is basically an analogy to an academic quote.

Some other important ranking factors include (in no particular order):

  • Use related words and phrases
  • Links related to the content
  • Grammar and spelling
  • objective authority
  • social sharing
  • Domain age
  • AMP
  • Page layout and structure
  • Ranking factors can be divided into on-page SEO (including technical SEO) and link building or off-page SEO factors.

Check the authority of the domain of your site or any other site to find its strengths and weaknesses on sites such as:

  • Aherfs.
  •  MOZ.
  •  SiteProfiler .
  •  The best is the websiteseochecker

How people use search engines.

Conclusion: The main point of SEO is to be friendly to both users and search engines. If you invest all your money and time into the perfect technical SEO, that's fine. But if user interaction is poor, your online presence may be affected. This way you start wasting money. The user's point of view is priority number one.

SEO - How people use search engines.

Interactions with search engines have evolved over the years. However, the principle remains the same:

  • Need for a solution, information or answer
  • Write the need in the form of a query (keyword) in the search engine
  • View and browse results
  • Clicking on one or more results (websites)
  • Scanning websites for the answer
  • Pass more results in the first SERP and/or change the search query, if the answer is not found.
  • Presence of search engines in the market.

market search engines.

Search Engine Optimization

Market share of search engines

As you can see, Google has the largest share after Bing and Beidou. It is the first for phones and desktop devices.

How are search queries classified?

There are three types of search queries:

  • Navigational search queries (to search for a site or brand).
  • Media search queries (to search for information)
  • Transactional search queries (to buy or sell).
  • Navigational search queries.

Represents the intent to search for a particular brand or website. People tend to type “youtube” or “google” into search engines instead of using browser history or bookmarks.

Based on a study done by Mangole that analyzed 1.6 billion keywords, brands like YouTube, Facebook and Google had the highest search volumes along with other navigational queries.

Informational search queries

These are presented when users search for information. They are not looking for a specific website, however for an answer or instructions on how to do something. For example, “How do I cook pizza”.

Transactional search queries

This type is an intent to conduct a transaction. It usually comes with a product name (Nike Airmax) or category (sneakers). Additionally, it can be written with “place of purchase…” or “price..” or in a similar way.

There are many blog posts on how to target a specific search query. However, it may not be that easy in the future due to the growing popularity of voice assistants like Siri, Google Now or Alexa.

Informational search queries can quickly convert to transactions by opening a new app or giving an option to make a purchase.

SERP search results page updates.

It's nice to be on the first page of organic search results, being in the top three is what you want, but there's only one winner, right? It is a matter of perspective.

Websites all over the world are updated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,… well, some of them are not, but this is a different case. The thing is that the Internet is growing every day. When new websites and changes are indexed by a search engine, the underlying results may change.

Google's algorithm

Another very important factor is the Google algorithm which changes all the time. Minor tweaks may not cause anything at all, but a major algorithm update can be an earthquake for sites.

What I'm trying to say is that even if you're a winner, your pages can (and probably likely) be replaced by your competitors' pages the other day, and vice versa.

SERP Features

Of course, rank first is important, but these days, you have to take into account what is called “position zero,” or position zero, which is the first result you get when you search for something in Google.

Let's take a look at the results of the query “how to cook potatoes”. The first result is a featured Google snippet that contains all or the most important information, so you don't need to check the other results.

There are many SERP features (also called rich snippets or featured snippets). Why should you care about them? Rich snippets affect the behavior of users when they see the SERP. In other words, it may have general organic search results and in many cases, lower click-through rates (CTR).

That's because SERP features have more visual appeal and often provide enough information that Google search users don't have to click on other results at all or just click on featured results.

These are some of the most common rich snippets you'll see in the SERP:

  • Featured Extract
  • answer box
  • Carousel (photos, videos, products)
  • photo pack
  • Map package
  • Sponsored Features (Google Ads, Flights, Google Shopping)
  • knowledge graph
  • Top news
  • Events
  • Website Section Links

The good thing is that there are ways to see and analyze the impact of these improved results. For example, SERPChecker from Mangole will perform the task.

Just type the keyword, select the location and device type. This tool will show you the search results and SERP features if any. The effect is estimated on a scale from 0 to 5.

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