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Ch# 1. Search Fundamentals


In this chapter of our SEO guide, you can learn about what is search and how search engines work. This chapter will provide the foundations for learning SEO later. You will understand why and how do people use search engines. What are the different types of searches. What is search or keyword intent. It is always good to have basics down before diving into the advanced concepts.

Aim of Search Engines

The aim of the search engines is to collect, match and provide a high quality information in the form of online resorces that their user is trying find via their search portal or service such voice search.

From the list of results, a user can select an option(s) or in case of voice search a direct and accurate answer that fulfills their needs.

This doenst stop there. From user behaviour and interet, searh engines further learn and improve their results using technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processings(NLP), just to name a few.

How search engines work

Search engines work by crawling, indexing and ranking webpages using their softwares, commonly known as web crawlers, bots or spiders.

The process mainly involves downloading a web page, and following links on the page to discover new pages. The process goes on, indefinately.

How search engines work, is perhaps better exlplained by Matt Cutts, a software engineer at Google.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs

The whole process is generally termed as Search engine indexing

To summarize what Matt said, the work search engines perform can be divided into three parts:

  1. Crawling the web
  2. Indexing the findings
  3. Ranking the results

Crawling the web

Crawling the web is the technical term used to define the process by which live websites are visited and scanned in detail.

All sections, content, HTML such as H1 to H6 heading tags, images, internal and external links, and any other relevant information such as structured data is gathered.

All internal and external links that point to different webpages on the same website or webpages outside the same website are crawled further.

The process goes on until no further links are left to crawl.

All available information is crawled, retrieved and parsed.

Indexing the web

Indexing the web the next stage, When a search engine has gathered all the information from a webpage.It mainly consists of adding or updating all gathered information into it's organized catalogues.

Fun Fact: Did you know, Google crawls 30 trillion web pages, on average more than 100 billion times a month? #SEO #Google
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Pro Tip: To check how many and which pages are indexed by Google from your own or any other website, use search operator in #Google search: site:domain.com #SEO
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Every time a change is detected in a page or re crawl is requested by website owner, the search engines recrwals the page and updates it's indexes accordingly.

Ranking the results

The gathered information or the index includes all the discovered URLs, their content and most importantly, all the relevant key signals about the content and website of each URL such as:

  • The keywords discovered in the content, their relevance to the content and the topic-
  • The type of content such as structured data, images, references-
  • The age of a webpage and freshness of the content

In the Ranking process, the information utilized is not only limited to the crawled data but many other sources as well.

For e.g, Google which accounts for 90% of the searches, has uncountable data collection point about a webpage, such as:

Information provided by Google analytics such as

  • Bounce rate
  • Page speed
  • Time on page
  • User experience (UX)
  • User interface (UI)
  • etc

Information collected via other software and devices such as Google chrome, Google Home

  • Google Maps
  • Google Ads
  • Google Adsense to name a few

Fun Fact: There are over 200 signals #Google uses to rank a page. No one knows for sure as what exactly are those signals as search engines keep this information secret. #SEO
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Ranking factors

As mentioned in the video, there are over 200 signals Google uses to rank a page.

No one knows for sure as what exactly are those factors as search engines keep this information secret.

Many of these factors are tried, tested and proven, but many are just speculations or even myths.

Not all factors carry the same weight.

These factors and their weight is evaluated constantly and updated.

Some ranking factors are more important than others.

Depending on your niche and competition a website may does great with a few or may fight hard to work on all of them.

You don't have to know all of the ranking factors by heart to learn SEO, but it is good to have at least a basic overview.

Top 10 search engine ranking factors

  1. Content serves user intent best
  2. Content is crawlable
  3. Quality & quantity of inbound and outbound links
  4. Content is original
  5. Content is unique
  6. Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT)
  7. How fresh and relevant is the content
  8. Click-through Rate (CTR)
  9. Web page speed
  10. Content is accessible on multiple devices

Perhaps, if we shortlist these factors further, these are the three main factors.

  1. Quality of the content
  2. Backlink profile (other websites pointing to this content)
  3. Satisfies the user

There are other factors which are important but have value only if the most important requirements for ranking are met.

Other Important search engine ranking factors

  • Structure of a web page
  • Authority and trust of inbound and outbound links
  • Relevance of links to the topic
  • Number of social shares
  • In depth content
  • Presence of structured Data
  • Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)
  • Authority of the content creator
  • WEb page layout & design (For user experience)
  • Canonical tags
  • Presence of relevant keywords in the content
  • Images and Video
  • Use of HTTPS Protocol
  • Quality of Supplemental Content
  • Real world and accurate business information
  • Available Robots.txt
  • Available Sitemaps(s)
  • Domain Age

People and search engines

Search engines have become an integral part of our online lives.

Perhaps you will find rarely anyone who has an online access and never heard or visited Google.

"Google it" is the term more commonly used than to "search online"

Most website owners make the mistake of focusing on serving the search engines and forget the indirect relation between them and the user.

The user is the ultimate Boss.

Search engines algorithms have evolved and they take user's point of view very seriously.

Search engines strive to serve the user and if we miss this point by focusing only on technical aspects of search engine optimization, our rankings can suffer badly.

User interaction and satisfaction is more important than search engine satisfaction.

Steps involved in search

  • The search process start with a need for some information.
  • The user translates that into a query (keywords).
  • User types their query into search ebgine or communicate with a voice assitant using verbal commands.
  • Search engine returned indexed results or a verbal answer if a voice assistant.
  • user reviews and clicks through the most relevant titles in serach results(Serps).
  • If unstatisfied, user re searches using different keywords or re asks the question if using a voice assistant.
  • the steps are rpeated untill resquired information is found.

Types of search queries

All sach queries can be divided into three types

  1. Navigational
  2. Informational
  3. Transactional

Asad Butt

Asad Likes anything creative, but mainly, developing web-applications, optmizing websites for search engine algorithms and writing about all stuff creative.

He could be reached at LinkedIn or Twitter. He is also an active contributor at stackovrflow.com

Learn more about Asad Butt

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