How Search Engines Work
With about 3.8 million Google search queries per minute, the world has grown to rely on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing to provide them with the answers to life’s many questions. Whether delivering answers to mundane or extraordinary questions, search engines are machines that scan the internet (and its 1 billion websites) for specified keywords and respond to users with the most relevant websites or pages to their search.
The purpose of any search engine is to facilitate how a user finds information on a website or page because without the help of a search engine, finding an answer to a question would last days rather than seconds. Search engines like Google and Bing have two major functions: first, to crawl and index the web, and second, to provide users with meaningful results to their queries.
Before delivering results to a user, a search engine has to crawl the web and index each unique document on the internet (which is usually a webpage, but can also be a PDF, JPG, or other file), and then find the best link or path that each document. These links/paths allow crawlers or spiders to reach billions of interconnected documents across the web. When crawlers find new pages, they decipher the code from them and then store selected pieces in massive databases to later recall for search queries.
Search engines are answer machines, so when a user wants to solve a question with Yahoo, Bing, or Google, the priority of any search engine is to bring forth meaningful and relevant answers. To do so, search engines begin by returning only results that are relevant or useful to a searcher’s query, and then they rank those results according to the popularity and credibility of the websites serving that information. Sites can boost their rankings on search engine result pages, or SERP, by practicing search engine optimization (SEO), which is a process of affecting the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s natural or unpaid search results.
Search engines also consider the following factors when ranking a page:
When the page was published
If the page includes text, pictures, or video
Quality of the content
How well content matches user queries
How quickly the website loads
How many links from other websites point to that content
How many people shared the site’s content online
How each search engine determines popularity is based on their individual algorithm and is largely unknown, but what is known is their desire to deliver accurate, reliable, and relevant results to users. Based on the popularity of a site, page, or document, search engines assume that this popularity correlates to how valuable the information on the page must be. Their algorithms also account for the site’s readability, which can be enhanced by adding Schema markup.
Search engines are not flawless however, because they cannot guarantee reliability or truthfulness for users looking at search engine results pages or for businesses posting their local listings online. On the user side, advertisements at the top of the SERP can be paid for or sponsored by companies, which disregards how the search engine naturally ranks them for credibility. This creates real value in the natural results on a SERP and for businesses posting online, any efforts to appease search engine algorithms will bring a listing up in those ranks.
One way to enhance a business’ local SEO is through Schema markup, which codifies a page using language and vocabulary that are easily recognizable to major search engine algorithms. A different method to boost local SEO is by adding enhanced content to a listing in addition to the listing’s NAP data. Enhanced content lists include location specific information such as menus, products and services, bios, events, and offerings. By supplementing a page with Schema tagging, enhanced content, and images, a business is creating a useful, information-rich site that additionally describes its content in a clear and accurate way.
Yext helps businesses rank well on search engines by managing how business listings appear across the online search ecosystem — creating accuracy and reliability across the web. Businesses can utilize the Yext Knowledge Manager to manage digital knowledge — from traditional NAP to enhanced content. Data in all of the right places helps businesses rank higher on search engine results pages. Learn how the Yext Knowledge Manager can help your business.