How Search Works
13 August 2012 14:22 | Posted by Anne
The best definition of how a search engine works can be found on Wikipedia or at Standford University library where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin started the most successful Search Engine the world has ever seen. However those working in the marketing departments of companies probably don’t want to get bogged down too much in technical details – there are deadlines and targets to be met, so a working knowledge is sufficient. Lucidity Digital’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Specialist explains search engines in practical terms and how you can use the power of Google and others to optimise your online marketing campaign.
First of all, why do people need Search Engines?
The concept is close to our human needs, we need to know things. Since ancient times people turned to the gods or to the oracle looking for answers. Today search engines share that privilege. In an information era valuable content can be lost without the help of the search engines, and that is what they want to provide – content that has real, sustainable value.
If you are a business, you are providing a product or service that fulfils either human needs or wants. To ensure the people who need or want what you have to offer find you online, you need to have some understanding of how search works so you can make sure you are ahead of your competitors when people search for a queries related to your business. A targeted Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy is vital to ensuring this occurs.
How does a search engine work? (keeping the technical jargon to a minimum)
Search Engines are a collection of several computers and algorithms that collect all the information they can from the Internet using crawlers (also known as ‘spiders’). They are essentially “gatherers” of information - they take the information from every piece of content they can gather from a website and send it to the Search Engine to index it. This organisation of the information collected is done to make the search process as refined and comprehensive as possible for users. It is useful to know that the Search Engines, Google/Yahoo/Bing, Altavista and others, try very hard to provide a relevant solution to a query somebody types in their search box.
Google'd first production server controlled the search engine in its first carnation (Image via The New Scientist)
So every time you type a query in the Google Box, and press enter, Google gives you a page with the top most relevant results according to their algorithms. These queries, or keywords, can be one word or a whole phrase such as a question. So if you type ‘organic make-up’ you will get results from companies such as Green People and Lavera who specialise in make-up with natural ingredients. The results are also location specific - so if you are in Ireland and type the keyword ‘weather’ into the search box, pages from Met.ie and RTE.ie come up first. These results that come up are the distillation of that massive computing process.
What Google and other Search Engines want is to provide the right answer every time. The closer they get to understanding your intent when you are searching for something, the more efficient they are and the more people start trusting and using them for their search engine queries.
So where do SEO, SEM and Online Marketing come in?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - refers to a process of optimising a website’s content so the search engines can collect the content and relate it to a particular subject or query (one or many).
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - is the practice of developing a marketing strategy to serve a market in the best way possible. In plain English, it is the process of working to ensure a relevant answer (i.e. your company’s website) to a query is provided on every search opportunity (through both SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising).
Online Marketing – this integrates the SEO/SEM practices mentioned with an added third layer of advertisement that overlaps with SEO/SEM.
If you are interested in Online Marketing here is a short list of tactics you can use as part of a more general strategy:
3. Directory Listings
6. Email Marketing
Do you own an eCommerce site, a full website (with hundred of pages) or a brochure website where you offer your services? Then you need to become familiar with the different models of online marketing out there to promote your business. Remember the number of websites is growing every year, so in order to succeed on the Internet, you need to be on top of the game.
Talk to our SEO team today about how we can increase your website’s chances of being found on search engines like Google and Yahoo!