You can use search engines to find new information, everyday news, images, and videos, among many other things. They help you find the information you are looking for by evaluating thousands of pages on the web. So, let’s understand how Google search engine works and how SEO influences it. 

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine is a software program that directs you to the information you are looking for online using keywords or phrases. Search engines provide you with quick results by scanning the internet continuously and indexing every page they find. The purpose of search engines is to provide users with the most relevant search results for their search queries. 

One of the most popular search engines across the globe is Google. With over 8.5 billion searches every day, a search engine like Google helps users with their queries and problems by providing them with the most relevant results. To do so, Google follows certain steps that we will learn in the next section.

How do Search Engines Function?

Search engines work by searching their vast database of indexed pages. They retrieve and rank results in alignment with a user’s query. The three primary functions of how search engines work are:

  • Crawling: The first step involves scoring the internet for content and examining the code or content of each discovered URL.
  • Indexing: The second step includes storing and organizing the content identified during crawling, and once a page is indexed, it becomes a potential result for relevant queries.
  • Ranking: The last step involves determining the order of displayed results by presenting the most relevant content first, ensuring it best addresses the searcher’s query.

Process of Search Engine Crawling

Search engines utilize automated software programs called crawlers or spiders to visit web pages on the internet. These robots follow the links to different contents which can include web pages, images, videos, and PFDs, among other formats. 

These search engine crawlers search the web and collect information about each page they visit which consists of the page’s content, images, as well as other media. Along with this, it also collects the page’s metadata such as the page title and its description.

It is crucial to make sure your site is crawled and indexed so that it appears in the search results. Check the index status to assess whether search engines are discovering the desired pages. Make use of robots.txt to guide search engines on which parts of your site to crawl and which to avoid. Be mindful of the potential risks, as not all web robots adhere to robots.txt directives. 

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Another important aspect is to manage URL parameters in Google Search Console (GSC), especially for e-commerce sites where content is available through different URLs. You need to be cautious about instructing Googlebot to avoid specific parameters, as it may impact the indexing process. 

Apart from avoiding unimportant content, make sure that search engines can access and index the important pages. Factors like login forms, search forms, and hidden text without non-text media can affect visibility. That is why it is crucial to create a navigation structure and avoid common mistakes like mobile navigation discrepancies and reliance on JavaScript-enabled navigation. A well-structured website helps search engines easily discover and index pages.  

For the crawling process to be successful, organize and label content intuitively for users. You can make use of sitemaps to provide a list of URLs for crawlers to discover and index important content. A properly developed sitemap complements effective site navigation. 

Another thing to consider for search engine crawling is to check for crawl errors, including 4xx and 5xx HTTP status codes. Address these errors promptly to maintain a healthy relationship with search engines and improve user experience. 

You can also implement 301 redirects responsibility to inform site search engines and users about permanent URL changes. Avoid redirecting to irrelevant pages as it can impact the ranking of the content. For this instance, you can consider using 302 for temporary moves.

Process of Search Engine Indexing

Every search engine maintains an engine index which is a vast database of information that is used to serve users. This index is formed through the processing and storing of information found during web crawling.

The index stores the discovered pages, and search engines analyze their content, rendering them similar to a browser. Due to this, understanding how to index helps ensure your site is included in this database. Check how Googlebot sees your pages through the cached version, offering a snapshot of the last crawl. The frequency of crawling varies, and more established sites get crawled more often than the less known ones.

Index pages can be removed from the index for different reasons like “not found” errors, server errors, intentional removal through noindex tags, or blocking access with a password. In such a case, you can use tools like the URL Inspection tool to check the status. You can also use Robots Meta Directives to instruct web search engines on how to treat your web pages. These directives include index/noindex for crawling and inclusion in search results, follow/no follow for link behavior, and noarchive to prevent caching.

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Incorporate Robots Meta Tags in the HTML <head> of your webpage to communicate the desired instructions to search engines crawlers. For more flexibility in blocking search engines at scale, you can use the X-Robots-Tag within the HTTP header. This tag allows regular expressions, blocking non-HTML files, and applying sitewide noindex tags. 

Therefore, understanding ways to influence crawling and site website indexing can help avoid common pitfalls, ensuring the important pages on your site are effectively found and included in the search engine results pages.

Process of Search Engine Ranking 

When users search, search engines look for relevant content in their index and rank it based on relevance. The higher the rank of the Google index page, the more relevant the search engine considers the site to be. Blocking search engine crawlers or preventing the storage of certain pages in the index is possible. However, for content to be found, it must be accessible to crawlers and indexable. 

The process of ordering search results by relevance is known as ranking. Search engines use algorithms to determine this relevance, with frequency adjustments to enhance search quality. For instance, Google updates its search engine algorithms daily for continuous improvement.

This algorithm adjustment focuses on improving the overall quality of a search. While specifics may not always be disclosed, Google emphasizes continuous quality updates. Moreover, search engines aim to provide useful answers in relevant formats. Search engine optimization plays a crucial role in this instance which when used properly can help in ranking web pages or sites higher. 

How to Optimize Your Website for Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking in SEO?

Crawling

Your Google search leads the search engine to explore its database for results. If Googlebot cannot crawl your web pages, you won’t be found at all. Due to this, optimizing your website for crawling in SEO is integral. Here’s how you can do so:

  • Ensure your robots.txt file and meta tags are not unintentionally blocking pages from search engines, especially with the “noindex” setting.
  • Use tools like Google Search Console to identify broken links and fix them so that crawlers can access the page.
  • Develop an XML sitemap to enhance the search engine’s understanding of your site structure. Update it regularly, especially when introducing new pages. 
  • Elevate the speed of your website to facilitate quick crawling by search engine bots. 
  • Implement internal linking strategically to assist crawlers to discover and access more pages on your website. Focus on linking to essential pages for improved SEO performance.
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Indexing

If your page is not properly indexed, it won’t appear in the search results despite its relevance or quality. Therefore, follow the below steps to perform indexing in SEO:

  • Curate original content to avoid redundancy and ensure search engines index your page for added value.
  • Implement Schema markup for contextual clarity. This aids in indexing and potentially leads to rich SERP results. 
  • Create unique title tags and meta descriptions for each page to elevate the indexing process.
  • Use Google Search Console to identify and resolve crawl errors that might hinder the indexing of specific pages. 
  • Ensure mobile-friendliness, as Google employs mobile-first indexing, enhancing the scope of your page getting indexed.
  • Opt for HTTPs to enhance site security, a factor favorably considered by the search engines, increasing the likelihood of indexing. 

Ranking

Google’s search process is executed in milliseconds with the help of intricate search algorithms like PageRank. These algorithms continually evolve, underscoring Google’s dedication to providing relevant search results. Here is how you can optimize the ranking process for SEO:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify search terms relevant to your target audience.
  • Create individual pages focused on specific main keywords to provide concentrated information. 
  • Optimize content with relevant keywords in titles, meta descriptions, and header tags for better search engine understanding.
  • Publish valuable content and offer insights and solutions to build trust and credibility with your audience. 
  • Build high-quality backlinks from reputable sites to signal credibility to Google. 

Conclusion

Thus, Google and other search engines use different functions to display users with relevant search results. Due to this, understanding how the process of crawling, indexing, and ranking works can help you understand what to maintain and what to avoid so that your page gets displayed in the search results. Implement the relevant SEO work to improve the scope of appearing in search results pages.