How Do Search Engines Work? A Beginner Guide

Many marketers are trying to find out how the search engine works to have an optimal strategy for themselves. We can’t provide a summary of how the Google algorithm works for you (no one can), but we can provide some basic information on how the search engine works can help answer some questions. Here are some of the main things you should know.

how do search engines work

How do search engines work?

The goal of the search engine

The first thing to understand about how search engines work is that they prioritize providing the best possible results for what users are looking for. When it comes to organic results, search engines don’t care about the number of specific website owners who might want to take those top positions or think you are worthy – they only care about who they are looking for.

By providing the information people need, a search engine can ensure that those people continue to use the website again. That main goal leads to the secondary goal of making a company’s profit: making money on advertising. Businesses pay to advertise on search engines in large part because they know a large number of people use them every day. As long as Google keeps users happy and coming back, advertisers will continue to maintain profitability for the company.

Therefore, the main concern of search engines is how to ensure the results that it provides provide the most useful information for consumer queries. That’s where things start to get complicated.

Website crawler

How Do Search Engines Work crawlers

The first challenge of creating a search engine index was to identify all websites on the network. This part is up to the web crawler. Each time a website crawler discovers a page, the site crawler collects all relevant information on the page needed for the search engine index. With that page added to the index, that page will use every link on the page to find new pages to crawl.

Website owners can speed up the process of getting a website crawled by search engines by submitting a sitemap and using internal links. This is the easy part.

Search engine index

For search engines to identify the right website for every possible query, it must have a record of all the websites online, along with some understanding of what each of them does. To do that, the search engines create a large index of websites. The index tries to identify and organize every website and page on the web in a way that allows it to attract connections between the keywords people search for and the content included on each page.

On top of that, it needs to be able to assign relative quality to different websites covering the same topic. This is hard. People have enough time to agree on what constitutes “quality” content, but search engines must identify it based on factors that the machine can objectively measure.

Search engine algorithm

The second challenge of the search engine index is much more complicated: the relative value assigned to all websites.

If the web crawler finds 100,000 pages including content on the page, that seems to be related to a particular phrase, which order will the search engine decide in order to distribute those results?

That’s where search engine algorithms work. Engineers at every major search engine company spend hours developing a complex algorithm that uses a number of factors to assign relative value to a website.

Ranking factor

There are many different factors that determine exactly why a page will rank differently:


Links are the most important ranking factor, especially the external links (links from one page to another) because every time another website links to your website, it signals to Google that there is something. authoritative or valuable on the linked page. When a website with lots of other websites linking to it links to another website, that link is even more valuable because the website has high authority. While everything else on this list is important, a LOT of rankings determine based on the number and quality of links pointing to a website.


Search engines always try to provide the most relevant results, so they search for terms on the page that are relevant to the query of the person searching. The more you use related keywords, the more signals the search engine knows that your content is relevant.

Usability on mobile devices

Google has paid in advance for using mobile usability as a ranking factor. If your website looks great on desktop, but has never been optimized for mobile use, it can get you in the rankings.

Page loading speed

People are impatient and therefore also search engines will rank lower because of it.

Website age

Old websites are often considered to be more reliable and authoritative than new websites.

Behavioral data

Google keeps track of what people do after they visit the search engine results page (SERP). If someone clicks on a page and the page doesn’t immediately provide what they’re looking for. Instead, if they spend time on the page or even click through to the various pages on the website when they get there, it shows Google that the website provides value.

Google and other search engines have provided some information about the ranking factors they use, but they often remain confidential about how their search engine algorithms work. They don’t want people trying to manipulate the results – something has long been a problem with black hat SEO practitioners.


Through the above article, surely you understand and understand somewhat how the search engine works to be able to build the best SEO strategy. Good luck!


How Do Search Engines Work? A Beginner Guide

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