One of the most common questions posed by website owners is, “Why doesn’t my site come up on Google yet?” We all know it’s important to appear in search engine results, and everyone wants it to happen right away. Understanding how a search engine actually works is the first step towards understanding what can get your website to “show up” in the  results.

Search engines are special websites that exist to help people find information available on the hundreds of millions of other sites on the World Wide Web. There are differences in the ways various search engines work, but they all perform three basic tasks:

  • They search the Internet — or select pieces of the Internet — based on important words.
  • They keep an index of the words they find, and where they find them.
  • They allow users to look for words or combinations of words found in that index.

These three important tasks are implemented using three essential software applications: the Spider software, the Index software and the Query software. If you understand what these three do, then you have the foundation for understanding the relationship between your website and the search engines.

The Spider software: The simplest and most common explanation of the Spider software is that it ‘crawls the web looking for new pages to collect and add to the search engine indices’.  In reality, the spider doesn’t do any ‘crawling’ and doesn’t ‘visit’ any web pages. It is actually a robot software that requests pages from a website just the same way an internet browser does. The spider doesn’t collect images or display anything – it is only interested in text and links and the URL they came from. A spider loves links because they lead it to other web pages, allowing it to gather as much information as it can in the shortest time possible.

The Index software: Think of the index as the filing system used by the Spider to store all of the information it collects. The index makes sense of the mass of text, links and URLs using what is called an algorithm – a complex mathematical formula that analyzes the pages, links and text. The index uses the algorithm to assign scores that allow the search engine to judge how important the page (and URL) might be to a person searching.

The Query software is what you see when you go to a search engine URL address.  This is the front end that features the box into which you type your search terms.

This may be the most important aspect to understand about the relationship between a search engine, timing, and your website.

When you type in your search words or phrases and hit “Enter” the search engine will try to match your words with the best choice of all the information it has indexed from the World Wide Web.  The query software doesn’t search the entire live internet at that moment – it checks the records that have been created by its previous information mining expeditions across the web and stored in its own index software.

So when a website owner asks the question of “why isn’t my website showing up on Google yet?” one of the first things to consider is whether the Google robot or any other search engine spider has visited, and indexed, the site yet. Beyond that step, it’s a question of how the algorithm will analyze and score the site in its index.

There are no magic tricks or dirty little secrets to getting easy high scores. Good search engine optimization begins with understanding what is going on, followed by hard work, research and attention to detail. To add to your new understanding, we will bring you more good information about improving that “score” in later articles.

Posted by on November 21, 2008. Read more articles about , or , , .

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