How Search Engines Really Work

As a business owner, you want to rank the highest in Google and bring in the most business.  When you want to rank higher, you may have the question, “how do search engines work?” Search engines scour billions of pieces of content and decide what content will answer searches. They crawl, index, and rank your website based on the content within. Look at the information below to see how search engines really work.


Search engines will send out a team of robots to find new or updated content within a website. The information they collect can vary based on any photos, videos, PDF’s or written content on the web page. These bots look through the different URLs and save the information in a database where it can be retrieved later for a search result.  

Search engines will use the information they saved into their database or index to decide on the ranking of each page. If you’re curious to see if your pages have been crawled, there are many ways to check. Typing this into Google: will give you results that have been crawled and indexed by Google. Not only can you get an idea of the pages that are being indexed, but you can also see how they are currently showing in results.

Not seeing your site in any search results? There are a few reasons as to why:

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


These search engines then index the site by organizing the content gathered during the crawling stage. Search engines analyze the content, photos, video, and PDFs and organize the information to prepare for a search that will provide quick and accurate results.

Pages can be added to the index and can also be taken away. Here are a few reasons as to why a URL might be removed from the index:

  • The URL is returning a “not found” error. This could be a 404-page error which is an intentional page deletion, or an accidental 301 redirect not being setup.
  • The URL has a no index meta tag added. This tag can be added to instruct search engines not to index the page.
  • The URL can be penalized for violation of the Webmaster Guidelines and as a result is removed from the index.
  • The URL has been blocked from crawling with a password required to access the page.

You can tell search engines how to index your site by using meta directives or “meta tags.” This gives instruction to search engines on how you want your web page treated.


What do search engines want?

Search engines want to provide answers that will be useful to the questions asked by the consumer. When search engines were just beginning, it was much easier to beat the system using different tactics. Showing your keywords in a flashy fashion such as in bold or italic fonts in hopes the search engines will rank you higher. This made user experiences terrible, hence keeping potential customers away.

When someone performs a search, search engines look through their index of URLs and content to find the best one that fits the search of the consumer. The higher the website is ranked, the more relevant the search engines believe that site is to the search.

Making your search engine optimization as accurate and simple as possible will grow your rankings and in turn your business because more consumers will see your web pages. Having knowledge of SEO and how search engines really work will give you insight on how to improve your ranking.

Are you looking for professional help to handle your SEO? Contact Pinnacle Marketing Group for a FREE consultation today.

~Article written by Miranda Beyer; Account Manager at Pinnacle Marketing Group.