A brief introduction to Search Engines
Search Engines- Helping us since ages!
There are thousands of millions of pages on the web, all ready to present the information on a variety of interesting and amusing topics. The Search Engines are the messengers of the same information at your disposal whenever you need them.
Well, the bad news is that there are thousands of millions of pages ready to fool you with inaccurate information shaped by the whim and fancy of the author. In this scenario, Search Engines are the saviours, who prevent these fraud websites/content from reaching out to you.
What exactly are Search Engines?
Well, if you go by the technical definition as quoted by Wikipedia:
“A web search engine is a software system that is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. The search results are generally presented in a line of results often referred to as search engine results pages (SERPs)”
If you want to understand it in simple terms:
Search engines are basically a web based tool that enables the users to find information on the World Wide Web.
Concept of SERPs:
SERPs is simply an acronym for Search Engine Result Pages. This page lists all the results found out for the particular query/keyword. Its simple; you enter your keyword (the word that you want to search for) and the Search Engines return with their list of websites that will provide you your desired results.
Look at the example below
I had entered ‘does jogging help you lose weight’ (Because I guess this inhibition is plaguing everybody) and the Search Engines come back with a list of websites as shown in the screenshot. What you can see in the image is the first page of SERPs (there are 10 pages of SERPs for this query).
Are you aware of the top 15 Search Engines?
Here we are, to present to you the top 15 Search Engines along with their estimated monthly visitors:
- Google– 1,100,000,000 visitors. (Our personal favourite)
- Bing-350,000,000 visitors.
- Yahoo!-300,000,000 visitors.
- Ask– 245,000,000 visitors.
- Aol Search– 125,000,000 visitors.
- Wow– 100,000,000 visitors.
- WebCrawler– 65,000,000 visitors.
- MyWebSearch– 60,000,000 visitors.
- Infospace– 24,000,000 visitors.
- Info– 13,500,000 visitors.
- DuckDuckGo– 13,000,000 visitors.
- Blekko– 12,500,000 visitors.
- Contenko– 11,000,000 visitors.
- Dogpile– 10,500,000 visitors
- Alhea– 7,500,000 visitors.
Search Engines before Google
As we have seen in the above section, Google has the maximum number of visitors. Let’s have a look as to how Search Engines were, before Google came into being.
- ARCHIE: Archie did not index the contents of the sites as the amount of data was so limited that it could be searched manually
- GOPHER: searched only Titles and name of files stored in their index.
- EXCITE: searched to improve relevancy of searches on the internet, by the use of statistical analysis of word relationships.
- YAHOO: In the beginning of Yahoo, the search was based on front end results which came from the web crawlers. In the year 2003, Yahoo launched its own self crawling Search Engine. Yahoo’s biggest contribution was the directory services, which created a large directory to find the search results.
- WEBCRAWLER: It was the first search engine which came up with full text search.This search engine allowed it users to search for any word on any webpage.
- INFOSEEK: Infoseek was used as a service which was paid, helped the website owners to submit the web page in good time
- ALTAVISTA: It permitted people to add or delete their keywords within 24 hours. It became the first searchable full text database on the Web
- ASK: It was a natural language web search engine aiming to rank links by its popularity .
How Search Engines work?
Every Search Engines use different complex mathematical algorithms for generating Search Results. Different Search Engines perceive different elements of a web page including page title, content, meta description and then come up with their results to rank on. Each Search Engine’s algorithm are different, so if you rank on Google does not definitely mean that you will rank on Google.
The 3 main functions of a Search Engine are:
- Crawling: A crawler is a Search Engine bot or a Search Engine spider that travels all around the web looking out for new pages ready to be indexed. In this scenario, the web can be considered as an entire country and the spiders/bots of Google stop at every destination to find the new places that have been developed in the country.
- Indexing: Once the Search Engines crawls the web and comes across the new pages, it then indexes or stores the information in its giant database categorically, to be retrieved later when any search query related to it comes up. These giant database storage facilities is capable of processing large amount of information really quickly.
- Providing information: Search engines are answering machines. Whenever a user types in his/her query and presses the enter button, the Search Engines would quest its directory of documents/information (that has already been crawled and indexed) and come back with the most relevant and popular results.
How do search engines determine relevance and popularity amongst such a large number of results?
In the earlier days of Search Engines, the quality of results were not very consistent with the query of the users. It was more of a directory, hence the search results were of a limited value. But then, over the years, there were smart engineers who were constantly working towards altering the algorithms of the Search Engines to provide better results to the searcher’s query/keyword.
Today, there are over 200 parameters that are used by Search Engines to determine the relevancy and popularity of the search results. This includes the title, keyword density, meta description, relevance of the content, backlinks profile etc. Let me tell you, these algorithms are not carried on manually; mathematical algorithms are employed to do the same. Broadly they are called ‘ranking factors’ and can be further divided into ‘On-page factors’ and ‘Off-page factors’.
Want to give it a try to see for yourself? Let’s do it!
Let’s begin the test to see how Search Engines crawls, indexes and ranks your web pages:
- Begin with registering a new website- putting in any keywords you like (it can be anything absurd or ludicrous. eg- mikabelli.com)
- Create multiple pages on that website, which targets the similar absurd keywords. (eg- toalhsy)
- Make the pages almost as identical as possible and then begin with altering one variable at a time, ie., content, keywords, title etc.
- Point links at this domain from well-crawled and indexed sites on other domains.
- Wait till the point the Search Engine crawls this website and indexes it and when it does, note your rankings.
- Now, again make small alterations and changes on this website and note its impacts on the search results. This would give you an idea of what factor is pushing up/down your rankings.
- Record other results which had a positive impact on the rankings and re-test it on other domains or with other terms. If several tests consistently return the same positive results, there are chances that you might have discovered a pattern used by Search Engines.
So you see, Search Engines are the mastermind behind the games of SEM and SEO!
Yes, it was the evil mind (yeah well, evil for those who consider it as a pain) of Search Engines that brought forward the concept and necessity of Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine optimization.
Because of the complexity and the highly qualitative algorithms that Search Engines use for ranking websites, coming on the first page of SERPs is actually a big deal. Plus getting there would imply a lot of targeted traffic. So, this explains the necessity of Search Engine Marketing and optimizing your website to be Search Engine friendly (SEO).
Search Engine Marketing is a process of employing ways for promoting/marketing your website in order to increase its online visibility and traffic. This involves two aspects- Organic and paid.
Organic involves SEO. SEO is making your site Search Engine friendly. Now, what is Search Engine friendly depends on the parameters that Search Engines use to rank website. Broadly, it can be divided into On-page optimization factors involving content, title tags, keywords, Alt tags, XML sitemaps, site design, meta descriptions etc. Off page factors would include quality backlinking, guest bloggings, forum postings, social media optimization etc.
The other aspect of SEM- paid marketing. Here, you basically buy traffic. There is a bidding on the keywords, whoever quotes the highest price, comes on the top for the results of that particular keyword.
Made a website, but is not showing in the SERPs? Relax!
If it’s been just a day or two since you made your website and are not appearing on the SERPs, then you might consider submitting your URL to Google (If you haven’t already done).
If you still don’t appear on the SERPs, relax! Google takes some time to crawl and index your website. A website can take anywhere from 24 hours to 8 weeks, depending upon when the website was crawled, the size of the website and indexed by the Search Engine. However, do not expect that your website will show up in the first 10 positions immediately, as it does take anywhere between 3 to 6 months for it to rank on the top on your chosen keywords.
But, If it’s been a long time since you have made your website and you are not able to rank for the keywords that you want, you are drowning in the sea of unoptimized sites. It’s suite of elegant and unique SEO management features will allow you to get a bird’s eye view on your digital marketing campaign and provide you with actionable data to work on.
Rank tracking, competitor’s analysis, Backlink Watch, SERP Archive, Keyword suggestions, Hidden opportunity, Automated triggers and a lot of other features will definitely make sure that your website becomes Search Engine friendly.