Crawling, Indexing and Ranking — How Search Engine Works?

Your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy can make or break your website. In order to make an effective SEO plan, it helps to understand how search engines, in this case, Google functions incessantly to serve the searchers with the best results by crawling, indexing and ranking over a billion websites and their content. This understanding would not only give you a comprehensive picture of the role of search engines but it would also help you figure out the best SEO practices using which you can get your pages or website rank higher in the search engine result page (SERP).

Google wants to give its searchers the most relevant web pages for a specific search query. Over the years, the processes involved in the mechanism have evolved and with regular updates in its algorithms, Google has been trying to improve the user experience (UX) for its searchers. Knowing ‘how does Google search results work‘ can help you align your website with the guidelines suggested by the search engine. In simpler words, it’s a three-step process. Google first crawls your website and the links it finds on it determine the most important pages on it. Then it stores or indexes these pages and their URLs (Universal Resource Locators) to retrieve them later when a query is made. And finally, based on some predefined ranking factors, it shows up your website and its pages in some order or rank on the search result page.

Let’s try and understand the aforementioned processes in detail. The crawlers or spiders of Google, using websites links, crawl the World Wide Web to discover the pages which exist on it and try to assess the best web page for the query. It’s worth mentioning here that Google does not crawl the entire web on a daily basis but the process is spread over a space of a number of weeks. Now that the search engine has crawled and identified the relevant web pages, it stores them on its index. This index is a collection or database of sorts of all the webpages and their information it has crawled. Based on the content, links, ads, anchor texts and links, and some other factors, the index catalogues and organises the webpages. Once the query is made by a searcher, the search engine interprets the intent of the user and his query, identifies the most relevant webpages answering that query from its index and then after deciding their rank, it returns the most relevant pages on the search engine result page to the user. The last step, ranking, is where our SEO strategy comes into the picture the most. One of the top three ranking factors is the content of your website. The search engine crawls the web pages and analysing the words and phrases on it makes a ‘semantic map’.

For a website owner, the basic understanding of how Google search engine works using crawling, indexing and ranking, may help with optimisation on the page and off the page of the website and thus he can better fine-tune his website and improve its ranking.

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