Every web search leads not to a web search, to be precise, but to the index of the respective search engine. This way, if we enter a question into the Google search bar, the Google index will be found in seconds for the pages that are most likely to answer the question.
The task of search engines can therefore be divided into 3 parts:
One of the main tasks of search engines is to crawl websites. Computer programs (called "spiders" or "crawlers") follow links on the website. Starting with "high authority" websites like Wikipedia, the crawler follows every link it finds on a page in order to crawl those pages and follow the links to them. It goes on and on.
In the second step, the crawled pages are indexed. This means that all information found will be included in the index. Remember, a search always searches the index. This means that this page can now potentially be suggested by the search engine during a search.
Thus, the first two steps can be understood at a high level as the main tasks of the crawler.
The third step is now to suggest pages to users that match their search queries. The search engine searches its index and then first decides which pages are relevant for the query and then sort them according to their estimated usefulness. The most relevant and most important page (according to assessment) is displayed at the top.
This score is based on various factors, so-called ranking factors. Google, for example, bases its score on 200+ factors, very few of which are officially announced. This includes, for example, factors such as the usability of mobile devices from the outside or security. The names of the additional ranking factors are mostly based on many tests and assumptions. In this highly dynamic field in which everything is constantly changing, good content matters above all on every page. The page doesn't have to be optimized only for search engines, but always for people.
Each Google search provides individual information on the search engine result page (abbreviated as SERP).
When searching for a product, for example, paid advertisements appear first (marked orange). Then the organic results are listed. These are the pages from the Google Index described above, which are listed in a specific order based on the ranking factors.
In addition to this "common" structure of results pages, there are also a number of so called SERP features for many search terms. First and foremost, these mean a very prominent position that can be influenced by SEO work and help to generate a lot of traffic.
In the next chapter, you will learn exactly how SEO works.
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