It’s amazing how fast a human accepts the amazing as ordinary. At some point today, you probably typed a question into your internet program or asked you smart phone to direct you to the closest Irish pub (or Mexican restaurant or hamburger joint). Odds are you got the answers you were looking for. HOW? Here are the 3 steps that give you answer to your search.
The 3 Steps Search Engines Take In Search Results
You may never have known the frustration of going through a stack of encyclopedias to find a certain fact or getting to the right spot in the library to find the book you need has been checked out. But, even if you grew up in the technological era and can’t remember a time without a computer, the smart phone you carry today probably has more memory – more function — than your first computer. So, how does it work? How do you get the answers you need in seconds? Here are the 3 main functions of a search engine.
- Would you believe spiders and ants? Or, worms or ‘bots? What about lookers, searchers or crawlers? Those are all names of an automated “spider” (or any other name) that visits page after page after page. Even in its early days, Google’s spiders were “reading” a few hundred pages a second. The spider is very thorough. It scans a site and compiles a complete list of the page title, the images, keywords and links. It uses those links and makes a list of place to crawl to next. Or, the spider may go back to somewhere it’s been before to see if anything has changed. If you have a book in your home (OK, check your e-reader) imagine knowing what is on every page and how it connects to other pages; think of selecting the most important words on every page that define the topic or the story. Now, do that hundreds and hundreds of times in a second. And, yet, we take our search engines for granted.
- Time to index. Now, all that data – the never-ending stream – is indexed. It’s put in a big database. Here you can let your imagination run a little wild and be right on. Think of walls of drives – thousands of petabytes worth. That’s what it would be like to set into one of Google’s data centers. They are vast. Do three or four quick searches. Search “library” on Google and it will tell you there are “1,500,000,000 results (0.74 seconds)”. Better narrow that search. Try “library jobs” and you only get “About 641,000,000 results (0.42 seconds)”. Is your mind boggled yet?
- Finally, ranking and retrieving. Now, the search engine is going to try to make you happy. It wants to return the results that are most relevant to you. Go back to “library jobs” – jobs in your community may be listed first. Your question is searched against billions of pages by a ranking algorithm. Those are the top secrets of the trade because every search engine wants to be the one you use! There are some assumptions such as a determination that a popular, frequently visited site may have the best information, but this isn’t guesswork. It’s the mathematical equations (algorithms) at work. Voila! You get the answer you were looking for in seconds without getting out of your bathrobe. It really is amazing.
And, besides being amazing, it’s almost scary when you think of your business’s website as part of the billions and billions of pages of information. That’s the website you want at the top of the search list – yours! Feeling overwhelmed? You can always “Google It” for more information J