The Ins And Outs Of Search Engines: A Layman’s Explanation

ByAdlina Ahmad

Have you ever wondered how search engines like Google or Bing work? How do they know which results to show when you type in a query? The answer lies in their complex algorithms of indexing and ranking web pages. In this beginner’s guide, we will take a closer look at how search engines work and how they determine what results to show users.

Search Engine Indexing

Search engine indexing is the process of collecting and storing web pages in a search engine’s database. This process begins with a search engine’s crawlers or bots, which follow links from one web page to another, indexing each page as they go.

Search engine indexing plays a crucial role in delivering relevant search results to users. With proper indexing, search engines can effectively crawl and rank web pages.


search engine crawler

Crawling is the first step in the search engine indexing process. Search engine crawlers use automated bots to visit web pages and follow links to other pages. These bots gather information about each page they visit, including the content and structure of the page. The crawlers then add this information to the search engine’s index.

Crawling is a continuous process in which search engines revisit web pages to update their database with any changes or new content. It’s essential to ensure that your website is easily crawlable by search engines to ensure your pages are regularly indexed and updated in search results. The crawling frequency can depend on factors such as the website’s authority and the frequency of updates.


index-cards- how search engine works - search engine indexing

Indexing is the second step in the search engine indexing process. After the crawlers collect information about a web page, they store it in the search engine’s database or index. The index is like a massive library of web pages that the search engine can use to provide users with the search results. Think of it as an extensive catalogue of web pages, with each page’s information organized to make it easy for the search engine to find and retrieve relevant pages when a user enters a search query.

When a search engine indexes a web page, it doesn’t just store the page’s content. It also takes note of the page’s metadata, such as its title, description, and keywords. This metadata helps the search engine understand what the page is about and how to categorize it. In addition, the search engine may also take into account other factors, such as the page’s loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and security features, when indexing it. All of these factors help the search engine determine how relevant and valuable a page is to users, which in turn affects its ranking in search results.


lego house - search engine indexing - ranking

Ranking is the process of the search engines determining the order to display results to users. Search engines use complex algorithms to analyze the content and relevance of each indexed web page to the user’s query. They consider various factors, including the content quality, the website’s authority, and the user’s location, to determine the most relevant results.

After the search engine has analyzed the content and relevance of each indexed web page, it assigns a score or ranking to each page. The pages with the highest scores are displayed at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when a user enters a relevant search query. The ranking system is designed to provide users with the most relevant and helpful results for their queries, increasing the likelihood that they will find what they are looking for quickly and easily. As such, website owners and digital marketers must prioritize creating high-quality content and building authority in their respective industries to improve their search engine rankings and visibility.

Factors That Affect Search Engine Ranking.

Now that we understand the search engine indexing and ranking process, it’s time to take a closer look at the factors that affect search engine ranking.

Content Quality

content quality - notebook writing - Factors That Affect Search Engine Ranking.

One of the most important factors that search engines considers when ranking web pages is the quality of the content. Search engines want to provide users with the most relevant and informative results possible, so they look for high-quality content that is well-written, informative, and free of errors.

Search engines want to ensure that the content they display to users is accurate and trustworthy. Therefore, they look for content that provides value to the user and meets their search intent. In addition to well-written content, search engines also consider the relevance of the content to the user’s search query, as well as the freshness of the content. Websites that regularly update their content are more likely to rank higher than those that do not.


backlinks - typewriter - Factors That Affect Search Engine Ranking.

Backlinks are another important factor that search engines consider when ranking web pages. Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your website. Search engines view backlinks as a vote of confidence in your website’s content and authority. The more high-quality backlinks your website has, the higher it will rank in search results.

Search engines use backlinks to evaluate a website’s popularity, relevance, and authority. The more backlinks a website has, the more likely it is to be considered a reliable source of information. However, not all backlinks are created equal. Search engines also take into account the quality of the linking website and the relevance of the linked content. Obtaining high-quality backlinks from reputable websites can significantly improve a website’s search engine ranking. In contrast, low-quality or spammy backlinks can have the opposite effect.

Dear website owners, please be careful.

Page Load Speed

car dashboard rpm meter - page load speed

Page load speed is another crucial factor that search engines consider when ranking web pages. Users want to access information quickly, so search engines prioritize websites that load quickly. Websites that take too long to load can frustrate users and lead them to abandon the site.

Have you ever experienced waiting for a website to load so long that you eventually gave up and went to another website? Search engines consider page load speed as one of the critical factors when ranking web pages. The reason is that users want to access information quickly and easily without waiting too long for a page to load. Hence, this is why search engines prioritize websites that load quickly to provide users with the best experience possible.

Mobile Responsiveness

Factors That Affect Search Engine Ranking - mobile friendly website

As more users access the internet through mobile devices, search engines have begun to prioritize mobile responsiveness when ranking web pages. Websites that are optimized for mobile devices will rank higher in search results than those that are not.

When you access websites on your phone, you want the pages to load quickly and fit properly on your screen without zooming in or out. That’s why search engines consider whether a website is mobile-friendly enough when ranking pages. If a website is challenging to use on a mobile device, it will likely appear low in search results. So, website owners must ensure their website is optimized for mobile devices to improve their chances of ranking well in search results.

Domain Authority

Factors That Affect Search Engine Ranking - website with good domain authority

Domain authority is a measure of the trust and authority of a website. It is determined by various factors, including the website’s age, the number of backlinks, and the quality of its content. Search engines view websites with high domain authority as more credible and trustworthy than those with low domain authority.

Domain authority is also a website’s reputation or track record. Search engines look at how long the website has been around, how many other websites link to it, and how good the content is. If a website has been around for a long time, has a lot of other websites linking to it, and has high-quality content, it will have a high domain authority. Websites with high domain authority are considered more trustworthy by search engines. They are more likely to appear at the top of search results.


Search engines are complex tools that help people find information on the internet. They use algorithms to analyze millions of web pages and provide users with the most relevant results based on their search queries. Search engines consider various factors such as the quality of content, the authority of websites, backlinks, page load speed, and mobile responsiveness. These factors determine the ranking of web pages in search results.

Understanding how search engines work can help website owners improve their online presence and attract more visitors. By optimizing their websites for search engines, website owners can increase their visibility and attract more potential customers. Factors such as high-quality content, mobile responsiveness, and domain authority can significantly improve a website’s ranking in search results and ultimately drive more traffic to the site.

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