Search Engines: An Extensive Review

We have all experienced that moment of joy when after imputing some search terms on Google’s search engine, it came through for us. This is like a modern-day miracle that people don’t notice much because it is so common, easy and fast. 

What makes the miracle happen? How does it work? In this extensive review, all these questions and more about search engines will be reviewed.

You may be asking, “Why do I need to know?” For casual users, knowing more about search engines (example: which search terms to use) can help you effectively search for information faster. For SEO experts, it is the difference between getting your website/content ranked high or it getting lost in the avalanche of information online. 

We will be using Google as a case study in this review of search engines because it is the most used search engine.

What is a Search Engine

First up, it is important to understand what a search engine is. They are tools used for precise accessing of information. Comprising of two components,

  • Database of Information
  • Algorithms

When you impute search terms, the Algorithms narrow your search terms to results that match your search and rank the results in order of importance. 

To get an idea of the huge work search engines perform, it is important to note that the ” database of information” sometimes contains more than 30 trillion web pages (sources, edicts, PDFs, videos, graphics e.t.c) and search engines go through all of this information in seconds (depending on your internet connection) to give the best-related results.

Algorithms look at hundreds of factors to choose which results to show and the ranking of the chosen results.

How do Search Engines Work

Here are a few terms to note:

Scheduler – a history log that shows document identifiers like URLs that match documents (web pages) on the internet

Crawler – An automated script that browses the World Wide Web in a methodological or automated manner in seconds. It reads the information on websites and then creates entries for search engine indexes

URLs – (Uniform Resource Locator) commonly known as a web address. It is a web resource that tells us where information is located and how to access or retrieve the information

Parser – A vital cog in the wheel. Parsers are like interpreters between you and the search engines. They interpret your search queries to a language the search engine algorithm can understand. Parsers literally make or mar search queries

Basically, it works like this. You input your search terms “where do I find free WiFi” and a Scheduler accesses all URLs and decides when to crawl new URLs or re-crawl already known URLs.

A Crawler downloads the web pages. Updates new links over time as fresh content is uploaded to the Web. When new content is updated, crawlers “re-crawl”.  A relatable example is when we produce new content on websites and the newest contents appear first, a crawler will then re-crawl that page by downloading the page with the latest content creation. After crawling, the results are sent on to the parser.

A Parser brings out links and important information from pages. Sends the extracted (URLs) to the Scheduler and the information to the indexer.  The Indexer is something close to your local librarian indexing books. Technically, this is where information that has been parsed and crawled gets uploaded to a database of information; the search index. As noted earlier, the database is huge and contains trillions of web pages.

How search engines work can sometimes be dissimilar due to different search engine algorithms used. We will be using Google’s search engine algorithm to explain how algorithms work.

Search Engine Algorithm 

Search engine algorithms rank the matching results to the search queries. Discovering, parsing, crawling and indexing aren’t the only actions taken. It is also important to rank the answers especially according to usefulness or relatedness to search queries. Search engine algorithms make it happen. 

Search engines have a different algorithm which affects the way they rank answers. Focusing on Google’s unique search algorithm, there are two major points why it works really well.

  • Google has made sure that incorrect spellings, weird placement of words and common human mistakes will be rectified and relevant results will be shown about the corrected search terms

This is really important because if you type “Schedulur” into Google’s search engine, it’ll fix the spelling for you and bring out search results matching the correct spelling “Scheduler“. This helps when users are rushed, anxious or just plain bad spellers.

They have also made sure that synonymous words are recognized by the search engine algorithm. “Football” will bring close synonyms like “Soccer“. This is relevant especially when you’re looking for articles and your search term is synonymous with articles that can provide you with the answers you seek. 

  • Google’s algorithm format works pretty much in the same way already described above but with a few vital tweaks and differences. It’s (Google) search engine crawls the Web, indexes the content found and immediately search queries are entered, matching results are found. In less than two seconds, it also ranks the search results according to their relevance to search queries

Google crawls and re-crawls more pages than any other search engine. Their index is perhaps the biggest and the most updated search engine. This has helped ensure their monopoly on search engines. Essentially, Google returns the most relevant results among all search engines from search queries.

Factors Google Consider When Ranking Relevant Content”

If you want to know how the whole ranking process happens, then this bit of information will be invaluable to you.

Search Intent

A little bit like mind-reading, only without Tarot cards or crystal balls. Google’s algorithm has been specially coded to register intent in search terms. Some terms searched will bring websites while others bring videos. 

Google is ensuring that every searcher gets exactly (or close enough) what they are searching for. There are 4 points to be discussed under search intent.

– Content Style

Any search will bring out three types of styles. Videos, Images or Text-based information. Knowing whichever style is vital to users from the search terms is one of the ways Google has succeeded in revolutionizing search engines. 

Search “Dandelion” and you’ll immediately see a picture of the flower. Google has interpreted that you need Images first and not the other types of content style. Another term “Marcus Rashford News” brought a text-based style. 

This is a really effective and time-saving concept that narrows down our search terms to the kind of content Google thinks we want. Nine times out of ten, they will be right.

Content-Type

There are four types of content that can be shown. Blog posts, Product, Category and Landing Pages and depending on your search terms, you will be directed to more of a type of content than others. “Buying a car” will lead you to a product, “How to build a blog” which will lead you to blog posts. 

This ensures that the search results are streamlined further into specific results that would match the content type the used search terms indicated. 

– Content Format

Blog posts still fall into this category creating an overlap with Content-Type and other formats are videos and landing pages.

Here, searching “How to” terms lead you to blog posts and videos showing exact tutorials teaching about whatever it is users want to learn. Landing pages could be important tools like scientific calculators or maybe comparing currencies. 

– Content Angle

Whenever we face a problem that looks difficult and we search for answers on search engines, we mostly look for the easiest tutorials and use terms such as “Easy Ways To” or “Fifa For Beginners“. 

Content Angle deciphers the main topic of the search term, it extracts the dominant theme in search queries and uses it to produce content that will fit. How many times have we heard somebody say “You don’t understand the angle I’m coming from”. Google does, with their algorithm they understand (mostly) the angle we’re coming from.

Conscious Of The Time(s)

A search query about new TV series will only bring new series particular to the year you’re in and not a new series in 2018 or 2010, new series in the current year because Google is time conscious. 

Search results can be time-based. You could search for ” goals from PL season 2015-2016” and you’ll get access to the goals in your search query. There are some queries that aren’t time relative, the search results will be from any year that has the specific content asked for. 

Content Quality

Imagine you asked for help about drugs or emergencies and you’re directed to quack videos or sites. It could cause major pain or worse, loss of life. This is why content quality is vital in ranking. Google has made efforts to rank high-quality posts over low-quality posts by classifying them by three categories.

  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trust

For instance, if you’re experiencing bank issues and you ask for solutions, you will generally be shown the bank’s customer care or FAQs. To minimize injury, physical/financial harm or loss of life, ranking high-quality content is important.

Personalization

If you have ever encountered the phrase “Google wants to turn on your location”, it is because Google wants to help us narrow down our search results further geographically. 

Nearest Restaurants” will immediately give you locations of restaurants close to you. An important cog in finding locations. 

Usability

Search results are narrowed down further on the basis of speed, implying that sites that load faster are normally ranked higher and sites that are mobile-friendly also get higher rankings because we browse more with mobiles than other devices. 

Rounding Up

Search Engines like Google have made searching for information easier and more comfortable. With upgrades to search, BERT being a key example, search queries will yield more relevant results.

Knowing how to pattern search terms will make us effective users of search engines and SEO optimized content creators can use this same knowledge to create user-friendly content and not just try to be ranked high by “exploiting” loopholes in search engine algorithms like including a lot of keywords. 

If you have any questions, comments, reservations or opinions, please use the comment box.

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