What is a search engine?

What is a search engine?

How search engines work

Crawling and indexing

Search engines serve only one thing: provide answers to user questions. To deliver relevant research results, these tools go through two stages:

Crawling: searching for pages on the internet

Indexing: ranking of results in order of relevance

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It is a sort of systematic inspection of websites on the Internet. Carried out before the user’s request, this step consists of gathering as much information as possible from web platforms. It is accomplished by robots called “spiders or crawlers”. At the end of this step, they send the collected information to the index to accomplish indexing.


When the index (the brain of the motors) receives the information from the robots, it evaluates it. So every time a user searches, they can provide them with relevant results.

How do search engines determine the relevance of a result?

The relevance assessment is not just about measuring the correspondence between the query and the web platform. There are other factors to consider. Search engines assume that the more popular a site, the more relevant the information it contains. This premise allows search engines to guarantee user satisfaction with search results.

Myths and reality around search engines

The myths

Submission to Search Engines

In the 1990s, search engines used submission forms. The webmasters submitted their sites and their keywords. It was then a question of signaling the site to browse it and index it. This system was quickly reviewed and abandoned. Today, robots come by themselves to browse the sites and index them on key expressions.

Ranking by meta tag Meta

tags (especially the meta keywords tag) were crucial for SEO. This SEO criterion has been abandoned by all the major engines. Today meta tags no longer have an impact on SEO.

Paid search (SEA) propels pages to the top of SERPs

Some theories claim that sites that pay for search engine advertising ( SEA ) rank higher naturally. This is an unfounded assumption. Google,  At Google, advertisers who spend millions of dollars a month on advertising have noticed that they don’t get any preferential treatment from the search engine.

The budget crawl

The web contains trillions of data. To facilitate the work of robots, search engines have introduced a system of limitations in their crawl. The crawl budget is the time spent by robots on your site. Search engines should find your pages as quickly as possible. So you understand that there is an important issue here. It is necessary to facilitate the work of the robots to crawl and index as much as possible all your site. If they can’t, part of your site won’t be visible to search engines and internet users.

To facilitate the work of robots, you can already apply some good practices:

Avoid broken links. Broken links are not appreciated by robots. They may need to stop their crawl.

Avoid lower quality content. For example, error pages, duplicate content, faceted browsing …

Limit 301/302 redirects

Optimize the loading time of your page. Long loading time is not good for your SEO but also for the Internet user. The latter will tend to go to another site to find the answer to his request if your site takes too long to load. You lose prospects.

Update your SiteMap. It will more easily guide robots to index your pages

 A regular crawl of your site

You have just created your site, and you notice its indexation on the search engines. Do you think the job is done? Know that robots regularly pass on your site. A place that is updated often will see bots give more often than a static site. Every day, search engines perform keyword analysis on pages to index them.

Filtration of low-value content

Engines all employ robots to determine the added value of content for readers. The most frequently filtered contents are

  • affiliate content,
  • duplicate content

the generated pages have very little text.

Engines assess the value of a domain on its originality and on the visitor experience they offer. Thus, sites that publish poor quality content will find it difficult to position themselves at the top of the ranking, even very well referenced. For example, if you have a high bounce rate from the SERP, you will be downgraded by the search engines. It means that Internet users cannot find an answer to their query and that the content is not relevant.

In addition, the launch of Google Panda in 2011 shows the search engine’s desire to promote qualitative content. This algorithm was put in place after a massive wave of spam emails and low-quality sites. How is the sanction applied? Panda penalizes poor quality content and sometimes the whole site. The pages concerned are then deindexed.

Various elements are used to evaluate your site to position it in the SERPs. One of the important criteria for the search engine is backlinks. To measure the reliability of your site, Google will take into consideration the number of links that point to it. To put it simply, the search engine will consider your site as relevant because many sites refer to it.

However, the search engine doesn’t just measure the number of backlinks. The quality of these links is an essential criterion. Indeed, the more your links come from authority sites, the more you will be appreciated by search engines. On the other hand, if you have “spammy” and poor quality links, the search tool will see this as fraud and apply a penalty. The Penguin algorithm was created to clean Google indexes from low-quality sites that hijack SEO through fraudulent linking techniques.

The fight against spam on search engines

Spamming is a very common practice on the web. On the rise since the mid-1990s, this practice allows spammers to take possession of sites well placed in search engines to introduce low-quality site promotion. Today, thanks to technological innovation from Google, it is increasingly difficult to implement.

News on search engines

Who has the largest share of the global search engine market?

The 2017 global ranking placed Google in first place with a net share of 74.54%. It is followed by the search engines  Yahoo, Baidu, Bing. It is interesting to note that while Google has the largest share, it has slowly declined from 2 th quarter of 2017, while the share of Baidu reached 14.69%.

How many searches are done on search engines each day?

In 2017, 46.8% of the world’s population had access to the Internet. By 2021, this figure is expected to reach 53.7%. According to statistics, Google receives 3.5 billion requests per day or 1.2 billion per year. Google is evolving rapidly. If in 1999, it took Google a month to crawl and index 50 million pages in 2012, this task was accomplished in less than a minute!

Search engines are, therefore, powerful and complex applications. Every day, millions of requests are requested by Internet users. Much more than an informational issue, search engines also have a marketing and financial issue. To face the competition and generate revenue via the web, being well positioned on the SERP is essential. But knowing the uses of its target is even more so. In 2009, only 0.7% of web traffic worldwide was generated by cell phones. In 2017, mobile represented 50.3% of global web traffic.

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