Search: A Key Component of Web Presence

Lately there has been a lot of activity with Google updating its indexes and listings and for the new push for mobile friendly sites. What seems like an enigma and rarely understood is how this search engine works with your site and others. When a person sits down at a computer and does a Google search, you are almost instantly presented with a list of results from all over the internet. How does Google find web pages matching the query, and determine the order of search results?

In simpler terms, you can think of searching the web as looking in a very large book with an impressive index telling you exactly where everything is located. When you do a search, programs from Google checks their index to determine the most relevant search results to be returned. There are three key processes in delivering results.

1. Crawling

Crawling is the process which “Googlebot” discovers new pages to add to their index. They use a huge set of computers to fetch (or “crawl”) billions of pages on the web. The program that does the fetching is called Googlebot (also known as a robot, bot, or spider). Googlebot uses an algorithmic process: computer programs determine which sites to crawl, how often, and how many pages to fetch from each site.Google’s crawl process begins with a list of web page URLs, generated from previous crawl processes, and augmented with Sitemap data provided by webmasters. As Googlebot visits each of these websites it detects links on each page and adds them to its list of pages to crawl. New sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links are noted and used to update the Google index. An important thing to note: Google doesn’t accept payment to crawl a site more frequently.

2. Indexing

Googlebot processes each of the pages it crawls in order to compile a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page. In addition, they process information included in key content tags and attributes, such as Title tags and ALT attributes. Googlebot can process many, but not all, content types. For example, they cannot process the content of some rich media files or dynamic pages.

3. Serving Results

When a user enters a query, Google’s machines search the index for matching pages and return the results they believe are the most relevant to the user. Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is the PageRank for a given page. PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank. Not all links are equal: Google works hard and it tries to identify spam links and other practices that negatively impact search results. Important: The best types of links are those that are given based on the quality of your content.

In order for your site to rank well in search results pages, it’s important to make sure that Google can crawl and index your site correctly. These Webmaster Guidelines here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769 help outline some best practices that can help you avoid common pitfalls and improve your site’s ranking. Learning how the search engine works is beneficial to get your content out there in the listings of potential customers.

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