Each week, almost every person types a word or phrase into their favorite search engine – Google, Bing, or Yahoo (to name a few). In mere fractions of a second, the information that person was seeking is neatly arranged on his or her computer screen, with the most helpful or popular websites appearing on the first page.
The Internet has billions, if not trillions of documents of information at our disposal. And in milliseconds, the search engine determines what we want and need to find, based on that very keyword or phrase we type in.
However, out of everyone who uses a search engine, not many know how a search engine operates.
The World Wide Web is composed of websites and multiple types of files. Each day, automated robots known as ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’ examine the code from these websites and files and stores the information in a datacenter. For the big search engines, like Google, there are hundreds of datacenters all over the world containing information.
When a person types in a keyword or phrase (known as a query) into the search bar, the search engine goes through the billions of documents they have stored in the databases looking for relevant material to that query.
There are many factors that go into determining what makes a website relevant. One of the most important is popularity. Popularity is determined by carefully crafted algorithms. Algorithms are made up of countless components. Each search engine has a different algorithm for calculating popularity. This means, that optimizing your website for Yahoo can be slightly different than optimizing it for Google, since different there are varying influential factors.