Search Engines

An essential part of any type of company’s online marketing plan are search engines.  It is true that you may purchase pay-per-click ads and banner ads, but a majority of links will still come from search engine results.  Most people find the sites they are looking for by simply searching for them regardless of web advertising firms best efforts.  Before you can improve your placement in the search engines you need to know how the search engines find your site and rank it.

Information on the web is stored in virtual filing cabinets. Each site has their own filing cabinet in a great big office aka the web.  Just like a home filing cabinet they aren’t always organized in an orderly fashion.  Sometimes papers are misfiled and other times you may find yourself scanning through files to discover that nothing you are searching for pertains to what you really need to find.  This is very similar to how it is like on the internet.  Things aren’t always organized in the way you think they will be.  You may not always find the right “folder.”

The fact that humans are all different, don’t always think logically and are far from perfect helps you to understand that you won’t always find what you are looking for in the exact way you thought you might.  The web is man-made.  Therefore, you have to be aware that in order to find what you are looking for you will need to try many different ways of searching.

Two ways of organizing the web include manual organization by web directories and automatic organization with search engines.  Web directories require you to put different web pages  into separate categories.  Web directories do not search the web, but they are very well organized and convenient to use.  Directories require humans to catalog the sites and do not work as quickly as search engines take to index.

Search engines are not directories.  They are not powered by humans.  Search engines use a special type of software program called a crawler or a spider.  These programs automatically roam the web.  They feed the information back to a massive bank of computers where the web indexes web pages.  Only titles and important words are indexed.  Crawlers and spiders act like robot web surfers and send the information back to the main home of stored information where a huge index is created.  Billions of entries are indexed daily.

The most common research tool used by internet users looking for a particular subject, product, service or information pertaining to an area of interest is the use of search engines.  It is important to understand how search engines work and how the design of your site can influence the indexing of your sight by the search engines.  Search engines can bring significant volumes of traffic to your site.

It is extremely easy to search on Yahoo and Google.  A person enters a search query, clicks the search button and then patiently waits for the search engine to display a list of matching results.  Searching takes place on the search engine site’s server.  Because of this it only takes half a second to complete the search.  Search engines have a huge index of websites on their servers which is created over a period of time. This allows people to be able to search quickly and efficiently.

Spider and crawler software is known for finding web pages, indexing and storing them on the search engine servers.  Looking for new and updated web pages, the spider and crawler software automatically crawl the web.  Not only do most sites spiders search for new web pages, but they also recrawl existing pages already in the database periodically.  They do this to check for updates and changes.  Every few weeks re-crawling of web pages in the database takes place.   No individual page is more than a few weeks out of date.

Each page is read by the search engine’s spider that it encounters.  The spider follows every link on every page until they are all followed.   New pages are added to the site’s database in this manner.  Every page that is discovered is identically copied onto the search site’s document server and recopied every time they are updated.  Indexes are then created with all the stored web pages and used to be able to search the database.  In the database of web pages, Indexes contain lists of important words that allow users to search and return with a list of web pages with the word that is being searched.

When you enter a word or a few words into the search engines query and hit submit, it automatically searches their indexes for those words and then the web pages which contain those words are returned in the results page.  The concept is simple, however execution of it is more complex.  As a website owner, its not as important to know how Yahoo or Google search the web than it is to know how to rank high on their results pages.

Each search engine has its own algorithm for ranking pages in its search index, but they all follow similar methodologies and have similar important factors.

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