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  • How Do Search Engines Work?

    How Do Search Engines Work? This is a great question and one I get asked all of the time. I searched for a short, easily-understood description and found the following at FatCow:

    Search engines use automated software (known as robots or spiders) to follow links on Websites, harvesting information as they go. When someone submits a query to a search engine, the engine returns a list of sites, ranking them on their relevance to the keywords used in the search. How search engines assess your site and determine the relevance of the words often depends on how the specific search engine works.

    Google created “The Story” to help individuals and businesses understand how search engines work. It’s an interesting overview and we highly recommend you take a look at it. Besides breaking down how search works, Google also provides some very interesting facts. A short review is listed below but you can click on each section heading to read more:

    Search Engines Work - Wise Choice Marketing SolutionsSearch Engines crawl and index web pages

    As Google states in the article, there are currently over 60 trillion web pages!! Search engines work to find web pages by following links from page to page. The pages are sorted by content and other factors and then indexed.

    Search Engines use algorithms to deliver results to search queries

    Programs and formulas are created to help search engines deliver the best results to search queries. After looking for clues to better understand what you’re looking for, documents are pulled from the index.

    Search Engines rank the Results (documents)

    Search engines rank the documents using over 200 different ranking factors and then display them as search results. Those sites with the highest rank are displayed first. While it’s impossible for us to know exactly what all of the 200+ ranking factors are, we do know what some of the important ones are. See our previous article, Important Ranking Factors for SEO.

    Google fights Spam

    It’s a big job to fight Spam but Google does it 24/7. While some of the spam removal is automatic, they also manually review questionable documents and pages. Here are some of the things they look at:

    • Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing (also known as Black Hat SEO)
    • Thin content with little or no added value (as our previous articles have stressed, quality content is king when it comes to SEO)
    • Unnatural links to and from a site (a pattern of unnatural, deceptive or manipulative inbound or outbound links is detected)
    • User-generated spam (spam content in forum discussions, blog comments and guest pages)
    • Parked domains (placeholder sites with little unique content)
    • Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects (pages are displaying different content to humans than is shown to search engines or redirecting users to a different page)
    • Hacked sites (some pages on a site may have been hacked by a third party to display spammy content or links)

    Google provides guidelines and best practices

    Google provides guidelines for Webmasters and website owners to help them improve their rank and avoid black hat SEO techniques or other misleading practices that could penalize your site. If you rely on a Webmaster to update your content and website, it’s important they undestand and follow these guidelines and best practices.

    Did this article help you understand how search engines work? If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below or email us at



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