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How Search Engines Work & Why Search Engine Optimization Is Important

By admin May 17, 2014
Blog, Digital Marketing 1

The World Wide Web has grown so vast that all of us who use the Web need the help of search engines to search the Web and to find information that is useful for us. Search engines do the heavy lifting of indexing and categorizing the trillions of Web pages out there when we put keywords or search phrases into a search engine’s query mechanism. The search engine returns results relevant to that particular keyword or search phrase.

How Do Search Engines Search

According to the details provided by Google, Google performs its role as a search engine by crawling the web and then sorting them based on their content and how they are linked to one another. All of that is stored in an Index. Google engineers then write programs and formulas to deliver the best results to user queries. Since any search query typically can match thousands and millions of web pages in Google’s index, Google has to rank web pages for relevancy using a proprietary and secret algorithm. After all this, the most relevant web pages are shown at the top of the search result page.

All the millions of web pages are ranked by Google and displayed over many pages of a Google search result. Typically, a user who made the search query will click on the top link or any of the other links on Page 1 majority of the time. Rarely will users bother to check out the web pages shown in Page 2 of the Google search results and beyond.

This presents a challenge to website owners in that they have to try and appear on Page 1 of search results since otherwise, they may well be non-existent. If a business has a ticket booking site or a local restaurant, then their site has to feature on Page 1 of the search results for keywords relevant to their businesses.

Search Engine Optimization

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into the picture. With the help of proper SEO, websites try to rank higher in the Google search results. It’s as simple as that and as complex as that. It’s simple because if you are already a famous brand (think Citibank, Coca-Cola, Sony, McDonalds), then your company website is almost guaranteed to get the No. 1 ranking in search results. On the other hand, for millions of websites, businesses or brands that are not as well known, they have to fight with thousands of competitors to be in the Top 10 Google search results to be featured on page 1. To win this competition, websites have to know Google’s mind. That’s to say, websites have to try to understand the secret recipe that Google uses to rank websites. We can never actually know this recipe, however let’s see how Google sees search in general to get a better understanding.

How Google Sees Search

Let us look at search results from Google’s perspective. What is Google trying to accomplish when it serves up the results to a query?

Google is trying to:

1. Meet User Needs

Google is in the business of satisfying its ‘users,’ the ones who trust Google to find what they are looking for. So, Google uses all the data at its disposal to come up with search results that will meet user needs. Google has become famous and so widely used for providing the most relevant results to its users.

2. Provide Quick Results

Google has the reputation for being not only a reliable search engine but an efficient and fast search engine. Hence, it attempts to give the answers quickly including giving the answer on the search result page itself. More and more questions are being answered by Google right on the search result page rather than pointing to a website that has that answer.

With the Hummingbird updates, Google is moving towards semantic search and conversational search designed to meet the needs of mobile users. With Hummingbird and Knowledge Graph in place, Google is keeping track of related searches performed in a single session. Google is also keeping track of user locations and integrates that information into the local search results. So, when users make local queries related to a restaurant or a movie for example, Google returns results based on the location of the user performing those queries.

3. Provide Relevant Results

Since Google is the gateway to the Internet for millions of users across the world, there’s a lot of effort made by companies to mislead Google. Since it is highly profitable for websites to be featured in the top results on a search result page, websites try to game the Google search results by using SEO techniques that are known as ‘black hat’ techniques. Google tries its best to stay one step ahead of such unscrupulous websites or companies. With Google’s algorithm getting ever more complex and even using reliable (trustworthy) signals including people Google trusts, data that is difficult to manipulate (IP addresses and so on) and other ‘social’ signals, it is also more difficult than ever to game the search results using this “black hat” techniques. Google has to remain ahead of this as much as they can so that they are not being tricked or manipulated by these techniques, which will in turn not provide relevant results to its users.

What SEO Can Do

The purpose of SEO has become more about strategy and less about tactics. SEO techniques should be about making sure that the website provides a lot of top quality content and useful information for website visitors. SEO is about making sure that the simple things of a website such as all the Social Media sharing buttons are there to ensure that sharing content on Social Media is easy. With the importance Google is giving to Trustworthiness, Google Authorship is of paramount importance. Google uses Author Rank for ranking in-depth articles made by trusted or reliable experts within their field of experience.

SEO is becoming more and more about content marketing. So, proper technical implementation of on-page SEO elements combined with strategic content marketing will deliver great results. As getting inbound links becomes more difficult, the value of creating content has grown in importance.

Overall, the value of SEO and SEO professionals has grown. With a majority of businesses using content marketing as their weapon of choice which has been openly recommended by Google, the competition for search engine rankings has only grown tougher. If you need any help with your SEO or any other digital marketing activity, feel free to reach out to the team at Mind Digital Group.

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