How Search Engine Works: Crawling, Indexing & Ranking

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Posted on March 24, 2020

What is a search engine?

Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. are answer machines. They exist to discover, understand, and organise the Internet’s content in order to offer the most relevant results to questions that the users are asking.

In order for your website to show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), it needs to be visible and verified by the search engines.


How do search engines work?
  1. Crawl: The search engines will send out an army of robots (also known as crawlers or spiders) to scour the Internet for new and updated content.

The Google bots start out by fetching a few web pages, and then follow the links on these web pages to find another path of new ones and so on. They then add these links to their index 

  1. Index: Search engines process, organise & store the URLs crawled by the bots in an index, called Caffeine which is a massive database of discovered URLs. 
  2. Rank: When a person is searching for information on Google, it will scan through its index and retrieve the most relevant links and will display it to them in the hopes of solving the searcher’s query

In most cases, the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant that site is to the query. 

If you have a website, it is a good idea to make sure it gets crawled and indexed so that it shows up in the SERPs. One way to check is by heading to Google and typing your website URL in the search bar. If you don’t show up anywhere in the search results, here are a few possible reasons:

  • Your site is new and hasn’t been crawled yet.
  • Your site has been penalised by Google for spammy tactics.
  • Your site isn’t linked to or from any external websites.
  • Your site contains some basic code called crawler directives that is blocking search engines.
  • Your site’s navigation makes it hard for a robot to crawl it effectively.

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