How a Search Engine Works

Candice Claassen

Candice Claassen

Posted on November 05, 2012

Search engines today are second nature. If a person wants to find a health care or medical business, research a medical condition, or anything else that may cross their mind, they will surely head to their computer before all else and conduct an online search with the help of a search engine.
An internet search engine is program designed to search for information online and provide search results, which are usually given in list form on several pages. These days, thanks to search engines, nonsensical words like Google, Yahoo, and Bing have become common household names.
Many people use search engines without understanding how they work. This is fine for recreational purposes, but if a medical or health care business wants to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, then it would be best to understand exactly what happens when someone presses “search”. After all, most businesses should want their website to show up as the highest rank page.
Below are the three factors that make up how a search engine can bring results to a searcher:

  • Gather the Webpages. A search engine uses a systematic approach to finding webpages using specialized software programs that “crawl” through the internet to find any and all webpages that are published. One a page is found, the program copies the content and continuously checks back changes, and if a change is made, re-copies the content to its most updated version. These programs are commonly known as web robots, web crawlers, or web spiders.
  • Organize the Webpages. After a page is copied, it is returned to the search engine and stored in a data center . A data center is an enormous sever that holds all the copies of webpages that are made by the web crawlers. These severs organize all of the copies of webpages so that they can be easily searched through to produce the most relevant results according to the search term or phrase. The search engine can only rank pages that they have within their index; this is the data store that provides the search results.
  • Rank the Webpages. The index holds all of the information that is provided to generate search results. But in order to rank the webpages in order of relevance search engines use an algorithm. An algorithm is a mathematical equation that calculates a value for any given webpage in relation to a search term. The results are then ranked in order of value, with the most relevant website given the top position. However, search engines never reveal the components of their algorithm. The reason for the secrecy is that they don’t want competitors to copy their algorithm or want businesses or people to manipulate the search engine to get ranked higher.
Although the page rank algorithm is secret, enough of their primary components have been figured out so that SEO techniques can be applied to improve a health care or medical business’s webpage rankings. Search engines will continue to update and change their algorithms over time, so being informed on relevant changes can help a company adapt its SEO and internet marketing strategies. Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that a webpage can only be found in a search engine’s results if it is published, so producing consistent, original content alone can do wonders for a business – especially when so many people these days use search engines in their daily lives.


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