If you have access to the internet, you have likely used a search engine. Internet surfers, professional and otherwise, seem to take search engines for granted. Most of us do not pause to wonder, “how do search engines work?” The main functions of these engines is to crawl content, build an index of that content, and return results most relevant to your query. Without search engines, the internet would be a broad, almost indecipherable tangle of disparate data points, with the occasional common link.
Like a collective brain, the world wide web includes numerous trains of thought in different formats, including images, text, and other multimedia. These individual thoughts are connected by multiple tracks that are interconnected by common links. Search engines chug along these linked tracks at the speed of electricity to find and index connected thoughts. It seems ironic that this fast and effective activity is referred to as “crawling” the internet, though the term refers to how these engines navigate this web of information. Pieces of each thought are indexed, or recorded in large databases, worldwide. From the indexed information, a search engine can quickly identify relevant thoughts, find the thought on the web, and retrieve and return results for a search query, presenting them in a ranked order, which is usually determined by relevance to the query’s keyword or phrase.
So, how do search engines work? They crawl web content and use rapid indexing to find and return the information most relevant to your request. The most successful search engines work hard to do this as fast as possible, as the world wide web continues to grow and as we continue to demand faster results. Search Engine Optimization Content (SEO Content) is how experienced content developers can help guide search engines to easily crawl their content as highly relevant (common keywords) and important (popular in terms of page visits). The next time you have a moment, enter this title question in the search box and discover even more about the internet tools we all rely upon.
Krysten Oates is a freelance writer who specializes in foreign travel, small business, and encourages web crawlers to ask themselves, “how do search engines work?”