Search Engine Basics

Search Engine Basics


A brief guide on search engines, and the role they play on the internet.

What are search engines?

Search engines provide a means for individuals to search the internet. Without search engines finding anything on the internet would be almost impossible.

A search engine is like a large dynamic directory. They simply provide the location of any webpage that they think is relevant to what you are looking for. 

All search engines are operated by private companies.  Like any other business it is at their discretion how their systems work. They are under no obligation to include a website in their listings. It is also soley down to the individual engines how they order the search results. 

How do search engines work?   

The principle of a search engines job in simple. They regularly visit each page on the internet and record the nature of its content and location.

A user visits the search engine and types in a series of words, to describe what they want. These words are known as Keywords.

The search engines use these keywords to establish what the user is looking for. It then looks for all the pages in its log and displays those it deems relevant to the keywords. They then use a very complex magmatic calculation called an algorithm to decide in which order the results are listed.

How do you get your websites listed in the search engines?

Search engines automatically record all new and updated pages and include them in their records. When a new website is launched it is not automatically included in the search results. So it can take several weeks before its pages can be found in the search listings.

The average website is only visited by the search engines every 7-14 days.This means that search listings are often out of date. At times this can be inconvenient, but the listing will be automatically updated next time the site is visited. Unfortunately there is very little that can be done to speed up this process.

As with any technology Search Engines are not free from error! Mistakes can be made, and listings shown incorrectly. If a listing has been shown incorrectly for a number of weeks you can contact the search engines directly and request they re visit your site to update their records.

What can you control?

You cannot control how, when or where the search engines show your listings, but you can influence them.

How the search results are calculated is a closely guarded secret. In addition the calculations they use are constantly changing to prevent website owners from discovering their methods.

As a result, a websites position can go up or down almost overnight. It is because the boundaries are constantly changing that there is so much confusion and mystery surrounding search engines listings.

How much time does it take?

All aspects of listing a website takes time, from appearing for the first time to improving your listing.
There are no quick fixes, although there are many companies out there who will offer them!  If you are looking for external help in optimising your website remember that nobody can ever guarantee the position your site will achieve.  All you can do is follow some simple tried, tested and search engine approved methods to optimise your sites position.

You also need to be realistic about your competition. If you are a local grocer then you will never surpass a listing for a large store such as Tesco's or Sainsbury's.


If you would like to know about how to optimise your site using Reason8 then see our guide  Key steps to optimising your site.

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