Search Engines 101 - Search Engines Explained

What Are Search Engines?

A search engine is a database system designed to index and categorize internet addresses, otherwise known as URLs (for example, http://www.submittoday.com).

There are four basic types of search engines:

Automatic: These search engines are based on information that is collected, sorted and analyzed by software programs, commonly referred to as "robots", "spiders", or "crawlers". These spiders crawl through web pages collecting information which is then analyzed and categorized into an "index". When you conduct a search using one of these search engines, you are really searching the index. The results of the search will depend on the contents of that index and its relevancy to your query.

Directories: A directory is a searchable subject guide of Web sites that have been reviewed and compiled by human editors. These editors decide which sites to list, and, in which categories.

Meta: Meta search engines use automated technology to gather information from a spider and then deliver a summary of that information as the results of a search to the end user.

Pay-per-click (PPC): A search engine that determines ranking according to the dollar amount you pay for each click from that search engine to your site. Examples of PPC search engines are Overture.com and FindWhat.com. The highest ranking goes to the highest bidder.

There are a few downfalls you should know about using PPCs:

  • The use of PPC search engines as part of your search engine optimization process will not improve your search engine positioning in the regular editorial search results. Instead, they will most always appear in a "Sponsored" or "Featured" area located at the top or side of the regular search page results. Even though your paid listing will appear at the top of the search page, many users will not click on paid listings because they look at it as an advertisement. In the past, people used to always click on banner ads, but now they are seen more of as a nuisance. Similarly, the same thing is happening with PPC listings. Also, PPC listings are not always as relevant to a query as the editorial search results.

  • If your site is not effectively search engine optimized before you begin to submit it to a PPC, it will still be poorly advertised afterwards. The optimization of your Web site is critical to the success of your rankings.

  • When you stop paying for a PPC submission, your listing disappears and so does the traffic.

    PPCs can be an effective short-term solution for gaining exposure and driving immediate traffic to your Web site while you wait for full indexing, but it can become expensive if you use it as a long-term solution.

    How Do Search Engines Work?:

    Search engines compile their databases with the aid of spiders (a.k.a. robots). These search engine spiders crawl the Internet from link to link, identifying Web pages. Once search engine spiders find a Web site, they index the content on those pages, making the URLs available to Internet users. In turn, owners of Web sites submit their URLs to search engines for crawling and, ultimately, inclusion in their databases. This is known as search engine submission.

    When you use search engines to find something on the Internet, you're basically asking the search engine to scan its database and match your keywords and phrases with the content of the URLs they have on file at that time. Spiders regularly return to the URLs they index to look for changes. When changes occur, the index is updated to reflect the new information.

    What Are The Pros And Cons Of Search Engines?

    Pro: With the vast wealth of information available on the Internet, search engines are the most effective and efficient way to find information based on your specific search requests.

    Con: Because search engines index mass quantities of data, you are likely to get irrelevant responses to your search requests.

    Are Search Engines All The Same?

    Search results vary from search engine to search engine in terms of size, speed and content. The results will also vary based on the ranking criteria the search engines use. If you aren't getting the results you need, try a different search engine. While the results may not be wildly different, you may get a few search results from one search engine that you didn't from another.

    How Do Search Engines Rank Web Pages?

    When ranking Web pages, search engines follow specific criteria, which may vary from one search engine to another. Naturally, they want to generate the most popular (or relevant) pages at the top of their list. Search engines will look at keywords and phrases, content, HTML meta tags and link popularity -- just to name a few -- to determine the value of the Web page.

    About The Author

    As Submit Today's copywriter and editor, Kristy Meghreblian has written online content for many successful companies, including Monster.com. She has successfully combined her excellence in journalism with the delicate art of keyword density as it relates to search engine optimization. As a result, she has helped many Submit Today clients achieve top ranking. Submit Today is a leading search engine optimization, submission and ranking company located in Naples, Florida.

    [email protected]

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