We know we open an internet search page, type in what we’re looking for, and hope we get what we’re looking for. But what is actually going on? Many consumers don’t actually know how search engines work. And even more just click on the first thing that pops up, which is usually an ad.

how search engines work

When you type a query into a search engine, all relevant pages are identified and given to you in a set of search engine results. This relevant data is driven by more than what you just typed in, other information is used such as:

  • Your location
  • Language
  • Previous search engine history
  • Which type of device is being used (mobile, desktop)

The websites that are being returned to you are also determined by Google algorithms which can be made up by all kinds of different factors. These factors can include:

  • The relevant keywords or phrases used on a page of a website that could be included in your search.
  • The intended search, yes, Google usually knows what you intended to search for.
  • What’s new; Google is always looking for freshness. What’s the latest movie, or what’s the latest release on Netflix. Google knows those types of searches matter, so they will rank higher.
  • Search engines also reward high quality content. They’re looking for experts in the field, and other things like content that can be trusted. This can come in the form of quality backlinks and how well the site is optimized.
  • Websites that rank higher are also websites that are usable. They need to be speedy, mobile friendly, and they will typically be located in close proximity to you. They’re not going to send you halfway around the world to a pizza place.

How search engines work should matter to you, because you’re trying to reach consumers and rank higher on search engine results pages. You need to be creating content for users, not search engines like Google or Bing, because ultimately, users drive exactly how search engines work!

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