How search engines operate and how people interact with them

How search engines operate and how people interact with them

Hello I’m Holly and I am a Digital Marketing Apprentice working for Netmatter. This is my first blog and I have been researching SEO and Search Engine Marketing. Hope you enjoy!

‘The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing. And we’re a long, long ways from that.’

Larry Page (Computer Scientist, co-founder of Google)


The first search engine was created in 1990 called ‘Archie’. Search engines were created to provide people with the answers, ranked in a list of relevance. Their main purposes include: crawling and constructing an index, and offering websites to the search users that they’ve determined are the most significant.

Crawl & Index

Each document in the World Wide Web is unique, and the search engines’ need to find a way to ‘crawl’ the entire internet so they can find all the links.

Links allow the search engines’ ‘crawler’ or ‘spider’ (which is an automated robot) to find billions of interlinked documents on the web and then it links them with the search users’ query. As soon as the crawler finds these pages, they translate the websites’ code and then applies that onto a massive database. To manage holding all the pages that are accessible in milliseconds, the search engine companies have constructed data-centres all over the world. These storage holders have a high expectation as they need to give accurate search results almost instantaneously, otherwise they will have dissatisfied users.

Relevance and Popularity

Popularity and relevance aren’t determined manually. Instead, the engines employ mathematical equations (algorithms) to sort them in relevance, and then to rank the relevance in order of quality (popularity). When search engines started, websites with keywords that linked to the users search came up, it was a very simplistic step and could often lead to a dissatisfied user. Whereas, now smart engineers have developed hundreds of factors that influence relevance and the results displayed, such as location.

How People interact with Search Engines

How people use search engines has definitely changed since 1990, but the primary aim is still to conduct a search on your query. The general queries people use search engines for are:

  • ‘Do’ Transactional Queries: Wanting to do something, such as buy a product or listen to a song.
  • ‘Know’ Informational Queries: In need of information, such as the name of an actor.
  • ‘Go’ Navigation Queries: Wanting to go to a particular place on the web, such as Facebook.

Search Engine Optimization means the process of maximising the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.

This means in order to build an online marketing strategy, you need to have empathy for your audience. The search engines key responsibility is to serve relevant results to their users. The main question that will be asked when a visitor is on a website- are they satisfied with what they have found and is it relevant to their search?

Search Engine Marketing is often called organic traffic. Many people employ an agency to branch out their digital marketing campaigns and are then able to be considered for higher rankings.

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