How Do Search Engines Work?


Search Engines find web pages that contain the information you want. How do they know what pages are best for you? Where do they find all the web pages? Who decides what page appears first?

There is a lot of talk about SEO these days. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. People sell their services as SEO experts to optimize your website for search engines. This is great if you know what search engines are and how they work. For the new small business website owner this may seem like a new language.

This article seeks to help small business owners understand how search engines work.

What is a Search Engine?

A Search Engine is an application that is on the internet that provides information about the websites available on the internet that deal with any subject you may be interested in.

When you need to know what websites deal with, let’s say Small Business Web Hosting, you would go to the URL of the search engine and type in “Small Business Web Hosting”.

The search engine will provide a list of all websites dealing with “Small Business Web Hosting”. These results appear on what they call a Search Engine Results Pages or SERP for short.

These pages appear in some order that the search engine has decided are most relevant or important to your search “Small Business Web Hosting”. Each search engine does this a little bit differently, but they all use similar ideas.

What are some examples of search engines that are available?

Google is probably the most popular example of a good search engine. There are many other examples such as Yahoo, Bing, MSN, Altavista, Mamma,, Ask,  Dogpile, and Excite. Some of these search engines compile results from other search engines. Dogpile and Momma are examples of this.

Over the years there have been many changes in search engine technology. The companies that provide search results try to present the best results based on their idea of what you search for. Many people feel that Google is the only search engine to be concerned with. Check out the various search engines for yourself.

How do Most Search Engines Find All the Web Pages?

Search engines use what are known as robots, bots, crawlers or spiders to discover all the web pages on the internet. These are programs that follow links from one website to the next. They collect all the links from each web page and then follow them. They do this in an orderly and logical manner.

After finding all the pages they must then look at each page and collect the important information about the web page. The spiders or crawlers collect this information and then pass it to another program.

This program analyzes each webpage to determine what information is stored on the page. Then they add all this information to their database. Each search engine does things a little bit differently. They use their own algorithms to decide which pages should be first, second and so on. They also look at keywords that best describe what information is contained on each page.

Why Does a Small Business Owner Need to Know About Search Engines?

As a small business owner you need to know how to ensure that your website appears in the search engines. Search engines are responsible for most of the traffic on the internet.

SEO experts need to be aware of the various techniques that employed by the various search engines so that they can change your web pages and your website so that your pages appear as close to number one in the search results as possible.

You also need to know a little bit about search engines so that you can talk intelligently to your SEO expert. You may also want to do some of your won SEO work.

For more information about SEO, download SEO Tactics for free. This is a free eBook that goes into more detail.

3 Responses to “How Do Search Engines Work?”

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