How search engines work - search engine concepts Pay Per Click advertising by Tribal Internet Marketing

How search engines work, search engine features offers you a description of About search engine features and how search engines work. How you can search engines better. If your are planning to submit your website to a search engine, please read this page before you go to the next steps.

The following information on the concepts and basics of search engines is discussed here.

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How does a search work?

Words or combinations of words that you have entered in the search box of a search engine are compared with the information in the search engine's database. The searchfunction tries to match your input with the content of this information. The documents that are found are sorted, using a couple of algorithms, but surely on relevance, and are presented in your browser. The most relevant document is shown first, followed by other, less relevant documents.

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How is document relevancy determined?

Once a search engine has found documents in its database that relate to your input, it will list them according to their relevance. The questions is now, how is this relevancy determined? The algorithm, a list of procedures and factors, is different from company to company. Sometimes they are described on the search engines pages, but mostly they are kept behind the curtain.

Surely decent page content, well used meta tags and the occurrences of your search term within a your page count. But also external factors, like site popularity by clickthroughs, hits of the site and nowadays pay-per-click and pay-for-location listings play a role. Examples of such search engines are and

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How search engines work?

The term "search engine" is often used generically to describe both true search engines and directories. They are not the same. The difference is how listings are compiled.

true Search engines

True search engines such as HotBot, create their listings automatically. They crawl the web, and people can search through what they have found. If you change your web pages, search engines eventually find these changes, and that can affect how you are listed. Page titles, body copy and other elements all play a role.


A directory such as Yahoo depends on humans for its listings. You submit a short description to the directory for your entire site, or editors write one for sites they review. A search looks for matches only in the descriptions submitted. Changing your web pages has no effect on your listing. Things that are useful for improving a listing with a search engine have nothing to do with improving a listing in a directory. The only exception is that a good site, with good content, might be more likely to get reviewed than a poor site.

Hybrid search engines:

Some search engines maintain an associated directory. Being included in a search engine's directory is usually a combination of luck and quality. Sometimes you can "submit" your site for review, but there is no guarantee that it will be included. Reviewers often keep an eye on sites submitted to announcement places, then choose to add those that look appealing.

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How are web pages ranked?

Search for anything using your favorite search engine. Nearly instantly, the search engine will sort through the millions of pages it knows about and present you with ones that match your topic. The matches will even be ranked, so that the most relevant ones come first.

As WebCrawler founder Brian Pinkerton puts it, "Imagine walking up to a librarian and saying, travel. Theyre going to look at you with a blank face." Unlike a librarian, search engines don't have the ability to ask a few questions to focus the search. They also can't rely on judgment and past experience to rank web pages, in the way humans can. Intelligent agents are moving in this direction, but there's a long way to go.

So how do search engines go about determining relevancy? They follow a set of rules, with the main rules involving the location and frequency of keywords on a web page. Call it the location/frequency method, for short. Remember the librarian mentioned above? They need to find books to match your request of "travel," so it makes sense that they first look at books with travel in the title. search engines operate the same way.

Pages with keywords appearing in the title are assumed to be more relevant than others to the topic. search engines will also check to see if the keywords appear near the top of a web page, such as in the headline or in the first few paragraphs of text. They assume that any page relevant to the topic will mention those words right from the beginning.

Frequency is the other major factor in how search engines determine relevancy. A search engine will analyze how often keywords appear in relation to other words in a web page. Those with a higher frequency are often deemed more relevant than other web pages.

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Search for specific words

Most people tend to search for "flowers" if they are looking for a site that offers a flower delivery service. The result is a unlimited list of sites that offer flowers, books about flowers, flower auctions, flower power but also flower delivery services. Be specific in your search! If you want to find a flowers delivery service in Paris search for "flower delivery service in Paris". You will be surprised about the results. Probably you will find the site of your choice amongst the first 10 on the list.

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Use of Booleans; AND, OR, NOT

If you want to search for a term that should be in the result entirely, you use the AND Boolean (or the "+" sign). The term should be preceded by the + sign, like "+flower +delivery +service +Paris".

If you would like to search for one word or the other word or both, use the OR Boolean in between, like "Versailles OR Paris".

If you want to exclude a word from search, use the NOT boolean, or use the "-" sign, like "- Versailles +Paris".

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Lowercase / Uppercase

Always enter your words in lowercase, unless you are searching for a person, city or a country, like "+philosophy +Nietzsche" or "+cinema +Singapore".

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The use of quotes and the asterix

If you require to look for an EXACT term, enclose a phrase of 2 or more words with quotation marks, like " "the phantom menace" " or " "Victoria falls" ".

There are some search engines that offer the possibility to search for all variants of a word by entering a part of the word followed by an asterix "*". if you enter "opt*" it will look for optimistic, optimal, optics etc.

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