How Search Engines Work

When someone types words or phrases into a search engine such as Google, the resulting list shows web sites which 'match' these words in order of prominence. How high a site comes in this listing depends on several things . . .

  1. How old the site is
  2. How closely the text on the site matches the words/phrases
  3. How closely the page title matches the words/phrases
  4. How closely the page description matches the words/phrases
  5. How many other sites link to it, and hence how 'popular' it is
  6. How regularly the site is updated

Sometimes your site may be competing with thousands of others dealing with similar competitive products or services. Your potential customers have to find your site amongst many others before this can be translated into business for you.

One hurdle that you have to overcome is that search engines usually give higher prominence to web sites which have been around a long time. Many of your competitors' sites will be older than yours, so may already be well ranked in search engines because of this. To surmount this, your site must be constructed and promoted in a way which moves you quickly up the rankings. This can take time and considerable effort.

Search Engines are extremely powerful. Google, for instance, 'indexes' every single word on your site, and keeps a record of this. When someone types a phrase into Google, it hunts through the records it holds and matches the phrase against the text, page titles and page descriptions on sites around the world. It then shows a list of sites which use this phrase, with prominence based on phrase-matching balanced against the longevity of the site and its popularity.

Google 'calculates' how popular a site is, and how this should affect its prominence in search results, by assessing how many other sites have links pointed to it. It also assesses how important those sites are. So, if there is a link pointing to your site from the BBC or Microsoft site, then Google will consider it very important, and move it higher up the search results page even if the text on the page is a poorer match than other sites lower down the listing.

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