Search Engine Basic Concepts

by Eric Enge,June 16, 2014Comments

Baffled by search engines and how they work? Not technical in orientation? Unfortunately, this make you susceptible to bad SEO advice, or sets you up to potentially be taken by a bad SEO firm.

This post will provide a layman’s level explanation of the basics of search engines. Let’s dig in.

The Basic Three Search Engine ConceptsRelevance

This is the basic first question that a search engine has to deal with when looking at any web page. What’s it about? Search engines want to know this because it helps them respond to user search queries with pages that are relevant to that query.

There are many signals that can be used to determine the relevance of a given page. Some of these include:

The title tag of the web page. As you would expect, the title for any document should be a leading indicator its contents.Semantic analysis of the content. This is not tied as much as it used to be to specific keyword phrases, but the general relevance of a page is analyzed based on the words and phrases used.Anchor text used in links to the page. The text you click on in a link also acts as a label for what you would expect to find once you get to that page.Topic matter of third party web pages containing links to the page. If lots of pages about automobile topics link to your page selling a used Ford Mustang, that’s a good thing.Topic matter of the site on which the page resides. Your page about selling a used Ford Mustang will do better on a site about used cars then it will on a site about water parks.How users respond to the content in the search engine results pages (SERPs). If everyone that clicks on a link immediately jumps back to the SERPs and clicks on something else, that could be a bad sign.

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