Getting to grips with search technology

search-enginesSearch engines are your gateway into the Internet. They’ve transformed the way our culture accesses information and have even started to influence the way our minds process information. Because nearly everyone uses search exclusively when looking for content on the web, search engines largely govern our perception of what the web really is.
You can use search engines to find everything from knowledge to products to entertainment. For businesses, this means search is a major variable that must be addressed to manage reputation, drive growth and reinforce credibility.

The unfortunate truth is that while Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—the practice of optimizing web pages to attain better rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)—is a major buzz word on the web, there’s a concerningly large quantity of misinformation on the subject and far too many SEO professionals fail to achieve results because they use a flawed methodology when seeking to improve search rankings.
In this chapter we’ll unearth what they’re doing wrong and you’ll gain a solid understanding of how search really works and how to influence it in your favor.

History of Search

The best way to understand why search works the way it does today is to have a grasp over how it came to be. In the mid-90’s two Stanford University students started a web directory which they eventually named Yahoo!. Yahoo organized content on the web into hierarchal categories, with long lists of links to various web pages. These pages were manually added into the directory. Although Yahoo didn’t initially offer the ability to search through their database of sites, they would become the largest search engine on the web at the end of the 90’s.

At around the same time another group of Stanford students created Excite, which used a programmatic script called a crawler (also known as a spider) to “crawl” from web page to web page, adding them into its database. This database is known as an index and the process of examining and adding web pages to an index is called indexing. Users were able to search Excite’s index and find pages on the topic they wanted. Excite quickly bought out its competitors and became a major contender in the search space.

By the turn of the millennium the search engine industry was fragmented: there were numerous search engines who relied mostly on the size of their index to sell their competitive advantage to users. But bigger isn’t necessarily better, after all, what good is a massive quantity of information if you don’t know where the best information is? Enter Google, another Stanford-born project created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google began in the search engine game a few years late, but it used a clever technique to analyze and rank the authority of web pages. Web pages with more authority would rank better, i.e., they would appear before others in search results.

Google’s PageRank algorithm uses hyperlinks to measure the authority of a web page. When one page links to another on the web, Google interprets the link as a sort of recommendation. The page from where the link originates recommends the destination page. Furthermore, not all links are equal: links from pages that are more linked to carry more weight than links from pages that aren’t linked to as much. The amount of weight a link carries is sometimes called link juice because the idea of liquid flowing between web pages is a fitting analogy for how PageRank works.

The left side of the diagram below is a [simplified] visual representation of the algorithm. Pages are depicted as circles and links between pages are arrows (left). Note how the more arrows a circle has from other large circles, the larger—or more authoritative—it is………..


Online Marketing Sorted!.

This is just a sample from a chapter in the brilliant marketing book: Online Marketing Sorted! Available from Amazon,

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