How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines have become an essential part of the our digital lives but most of us have absolutely no idea about how they actually work.

Let’s not dive into complex maths here. I don’t want to put you guys to sleep!

You need a fundamental understanding of the basics so we’ll be looking at the three major components that power the search engines of today. Understanding how they work will put you in a better position to rank your sites in the SERP’s for the keywords you want to rank for.

Search Crawling

You’ve most likely heard of the “spiders” the crawl around the web, searching for content. These are computer algorithms that scan for information on websites and read it, they also follow all the links from your pages to other pages. Search engine spiders are constantly crawling the web to find new content, links and more.

The spider returns every so often to see if you’ve made any changes to your original page so you always have an opportunity to change and repurpose your content in the future.


The search spider stores you content in huge indexing database. The spiders mission is to save every piece of content for the people that search for it in the future. The spider also looks at keyword relevancy to match the content to relevant search terms.


The most crucial aspect in the search engine function recipe is the ranking. This is how the search engine decides to deliver most relevant results to people who are searching for stuff. Google has a complex algorithm that works all this out. There are a variety of factors that will determine where you rank for the keywords you’re targeting.


Search engines aren’t the most complex things in the world. Don’t get me wrong, they have come a hell of a long way since the dawn of the internet but they still need to be shown information in a way that works for them. Otherwise you’ll end up with an amazing piece of content that doesn’t rank for your target keywords.

For example, you might write an article about “fire-breathing dragons” using simile’s and synonyms that relate to your target keyword. But if you don’t use the word “fire-breahing dragons” in certain places and a certain amount of times you won’t rank for your target keyword.

The key is to create a fantastic piece of content that is highly valuable and one that Google understands fully. A piece of content that engages you readers and tells Google exactly what they need to know about your article.