How Search Engines Work
We are always searching for new ways to optimize websites for search engines to crawl them. Countless hours are spent learning about updates on the elusive algorithm or current trends in how many characters your Meta should be. We do this because organic search results are one of the most competitive markets out there. What some people don’t realize is that the search engines really only account for about 0.03% of what is actually on the Internet. This means that 550 million domains are competing each day for the user’s attention in search results. It is important for businesses that are growing on the Internet to understand this because it puts into perspective the amount of work that should go into optimizing a website for the search engines.
The Indexing Process
The Web is made up of 60 trillion individual pages and search engines use what we call “spiders” to crawl each one of them. When each page of a website is crawled, it is categorized by the main keyword it focuses on. Then, the search engines store all of this data in a giant virtual filing cabinet called the index.
From this index, the search engines can rank results for search queries using an algorithm that contains over 200 parameters. All of this sounds pretty technical, but there are even more details to consider, like what search engines can and cannot see!
What Search Engines Can’t See…
Search engines only see text; they don’t read a page like the typical user would. If a page is created and not optimized, there is a chance that a search engine will not be able to see it. Anything that search engines can’t reach is part of the deep web. Below are some examples of this.
- Password-protected pages like online banking logins are not reachable for search engines.
- Form-controlled entries are like roadblocks for search engines. Examples of a form-controlled entries include job applications or contact forms submissions.
- Paywall-controlled entries are similar to form-controlled entries, but you have to pay to access the particular source. Online books or journal may use paywall-controlled entries.
- Pages without hyperlinks can’t be found by search engines.
- Hidden pages like unpublished blog posts are not visible at all to search engines.
- Adobe Flash pages are not search engine-friendly and usually can’t be seen correctly by search engines.
- Images will always need ALT tags for search engines to see them.
- Robots exclusions are ways to intentionally tell search engines to block a page from being indexed. These files can be set up by classifying a page with a “no follow” command.
Can Search Engines See My Site?
After discussing all of this, it may seem like the search engines will never find your site—but have no fear! Thankfully, there are tons of ways you can optimize your pages so that search engines, like Google and Bing, can find you. The following are some best practices for optimization.
- Write for the user, not the search engine. Search engines are looking to please the user, so when they see that your site and content are structured to do so, they give you popularity points.
- Make every page reachable from at least one link. Always provide the user with an outlet for more information by linking to other pages in your content. Also, try to get inbound links from industry-related directories and other reliable sources.
- Serve up useful information. Focus on one keyword per page and make the content interesting and helpful to the user who would be reading it.
- Use human-friendly URLs. If your URL is clear and correlates with the content on the page, it will be easier for search engines to line up the information. Avoid strange characters as much as possible.
- Update your Meta data. Your Meta description and Meta titles matter. Make sure they are unique, the correct length and directly relate to the content on the corresponding page.
Businesses are competing every day to attract users from organic search results. The most important thing to remember is that search engine optimization is an investment. You must continually perform these best practices and stay up to date with the latest algorithm updates to stay afloat.
If you would like to learn more about what search engine optimization can do for your business, contact Full Media today!