Basically, it takes a search engine, like Google, roughly a quarter of a second to retrieve, rank and return a list of websites to you that are the most relevant to your search. That’s pretty amazing, especially when you consider the billions of pages that exist on the Internet.
How do you compete?
In order to fully understand this, it’s important to know how the Internet is laid out.
The Internet consists of billions of pages. Each of these pages have a unique URL, content and linking system that connects them with other pages. One page will connect with another, which will connect to another and so on and so on. This creates a “web” of interconnected pages.
The crawling of pages is done by search engine spiders (automated robots). The spiders “read” one page and then follow links from that page to another page. Through links, the spiders can reach billions of interconnected documents.
Indexing is the process by which search engines select pieces of relevant content (including keywords and surrounding text) from the page and catalog them. Then, the code is stored and categorized with related information in massive data centers all around the world.
Retrieving happens when a user types in a keyword or a keyword phrase. The search engine then retrieves all of the urls it has stored which are relevant to the keyword or keyword phrase and returns this information to the user.
There are hundreds of rules are weighted and considered by the search engine. This is what constitutes the search engine’s algorithm. Search engines rank each web page that they find according to things like trust factors, page rank and even go as far as considering the user’s search history and their location.
The search engines job is to understand what your pages are all about from the code it crawls so it can return results relevant to a particular search string. Helping the search engines read and rank your site should be your goal. Ignoring this can have devastating results for your Website’s ranking and ultimately your business.
When writing content for your Website or designing your Website be aware of these factors. Make sure your Web development team adheres to coding standards and keeps your keyword phrases in mind when your website is being developed.
For a great video representation of how Google works (from Google):
To see how “your Website” is seen by a search engine spider, go here