Everybody these days uses Search Engines to find what they are looking for online, but how do search engines work? How, for example, does Google return a huge list of pages of results for a term you typed in to the search window, and how does it get it right so much of the time?
Well, Google is the world’s #1 search engine and it accounts for over 75% of all the searches carried out worldwide. That means that 3 out of every 4 searches worldwide is made using Google – and that’s some statistic!
What makes it work?
Most search engines work in a similar way: they base their search on the term you typed in the search window. However, a great many factors are taken into account when the Search Engine conducts the search – the page title, content and Meta data, how many other pages link to it, whether or not it validates correctly, and of course, whether it is relevant to your search term. All these factors (and more) are added to a mathematical formula called an algorithm which is used to aggregate the results pages, and this algorithm can often change to keep the results as accurate and relevant as possible.
Putting it into practice
So, let’s say you were searching for a pair of shoes – just searching for “shoes” would return a huge number of results (344 million) because the search is so broad. You could narrow your search considerably by qualifying it somehow; let’s say by searching for “brown shoes”. This would reduce the number to 35 million, but searching for “men’s brown shoes” would reduce it to2.6 million – a fraction of the original search!
Keep making the search more specific and the results become more focused as well, so adding “London”, “Bayswater”, “brogue” and “leather” to the search brings the results down to 900 – still quite a few, but a lot less than 344 million – and they are specific, targeted results. Now, if you had a shop that SOLD men’s brown shoes, wouldn’t you want to make sure that anyone searching for some found YOUR website and not your competitor’s first? I know I would!
Next steps (no pun intended!)
Search engines want to be as helpful as possible, so they want you to find exactly what you are looking for. The content you put on your page should be written for human visitors rather than search engine crawlers. If your site is full of fresh, original and relevant content Google will love it and reward you with a high ranking position. All search engines are greedy for content, so the more you have and the more specific it is to the searcher’s term the better it will be viewed. And the more times your search term appears in the content, the more relevance will be interpreted.
The process can be self promoting too. The better your page is ranked, the more visitors it will attract and the more traffic it generates, the higher the ranking will go. And the higher the page rank, the more other sites will want to link to it, which in turn means more relevance and consequently better ranking.
Content really is king
So “content is king”, as the saying goes. Find good quality content that fits the site’s purpose, make it accessible, relevant and write for human beings and you will soon reap the rewards in terms of more traffic, better links, more conversions and ultimately, more money. Almost everyone now uses the Internet, including your potential customers, so make sure they find you online first – give them lots of content!