The Internet is a powerful tool that offers billions of information at the click of a button. Internet users can use search engines for information, education, online shopping and transactions. Even though these applications offer so much data to users, many are not aware of how they work. In this article, SmartKeyword will help you to better understand how search engines work in order to better reference your web interface.


What is the difference between a browser and a search engine?

A browser is a software that displays information available on a website while a search engine is a website that allows users to find web pages. The main browsers are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. Among the most famous search engines, we have: Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Browsers generally include a rendering engine, a client interface and sometimes a plug-in manager. They include an address bar, a menu, a favorites bar, etc. To display web pages, browsers use protocols that guarantee the secure transfer of information.

On the other hand, search engines are indexed by robots called spiders, bots or crawlers. The role of the robots is to explore the Internet in order to help these software easily display results for Internet users’ requests. The data downloaded via Google can be videos, images, articles, files, open source software, etc.

What are the main operation steps in of a search engine?

Search engines work according to 3 main steps:

  • Exploration: this stage consists of crawling websites in search of all pages related to a web link.
  • Indexing: indexing consists of organizing and storing the data that has been collected in the Google datacenter. Once indexing is completed, the algorithm classifies the data into two index categories. First, there is the main index containing all the information collected during the crawl and the reverse index containing all the keywords that can be associated with URLs on the net. The combination of the two indexes forms a public index capable of being queried by Internet users by submitting a keyword/expression.
  • Query processing and SEO ranking: after collecting and indexing the URL linked to a query, search engines propose to users the most relevant pages that are likely to interest them. To evaluate the relevance, you must check if the keyword is present in the title, the URL and the content. For popularity, it is sufficient to observe if the pages receive many links and if the sites are trustworthy. However, the user's previous query history and location can also influence search results. The audience, on the other hand, takes into account the behavior of visitors who consult a page and their ability to stay there.

Crawling: how does a search engine find web pages?

Every day, Google allocates more or less time to all the sites on the web so that it can explore them in order to index content again and again or update existing content, should the crawling stage go smoothly. The analysis and selection of web page content is called crawling. In other words, search enginecrawling is the process by which web pages are analysed according to their relevance criteria. To find the pages, the data must be classified according to specific criteria (popularity, relevance, mesh, audience).


Indexing: saving web pages

The indexing of a site is a key stage in the quality of naturalreferencing. It refers to the process by which a search engine robot analyses, scans, lists and distributes the pages of a website before displaying them on a results page. It is therefore a prerequisite for a website to be displayed correctly. To be properly indexed, a website must remove all blocking elements in order to promote the display of all its web pages.

How do search engines determine the relevance of results?

The challenge to reach the top of the search engines is a major issue for any company. To achieve this, agencies will propose quality content and an optimal SEO strategy.

Content quality and relevance criteria

Today, the Internet represents a main source of information for the majority of the world's population. If access to computer content has become widespread in recent years, it is important to emphasize that not all information on the web is reliable. The quality of content on a website depends on several parameters. For content to be of quality, the keywords in the title must be relevant, the lexical field must be varied, the content must be original and the text must be structured using HTML tags.

SEO criteria

There are several criteria for SEO (search engine optimisation). Here are the most important criteria for a website to rank high in the SERP engines:

  • Site traffic: estimating the traffic of a website is one of the first criteria to consider in your SEO strategy. It is therefore necessary to take into account the quantity and quality. To do this, it is essential to ask yourself the right questions: Who are the users who visit your site? Where do they come from? What are the most attractive contents? etc.
  • Avoiding duplicate content Duplicate content: this simply means that the content of two different pages should not be similar, as search engines sanction such practices and this can influence the page's ranking.
  • Respect the rules specific to HTML code: HTML code is governed by the regulations of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). These rules aim to promote the development of the net in the best conditions and to serve the web in a sustainable way.
  • Optimise the site for Smartphones: the traffic of mobile users should not be neglected. It should be noted that nearly 15% of users connect via their Smartphone on search engines. To improve these statistics, any company with a website must offer a satisfactory user experience to its visitors.
  • The quality of the incoming links: the quantity and quality of the incoming links are a criterion of choice. The more different types of inbound links you have, the better you will be positioned by the search engines.


The notoriety of the site

In natural referencing, the notoriety of a site is evaluated in relation to the quality of incoming links to this site from other external sites. Thus, to increase the notoriety of your website, it is necessary above all to receive inbound links from other sites with a good user popularityindex . The popularity index or pagerank is a score between 0 and 10 defined by Google to measure the reputation of a site or page.

What is the most used search engine?

There are a number of search engines. However, according to recent studies, Google remains the most popular. With a global market share of over 90%, Google is by far the undisputed leader among search engines used in France and around the world. In second place is the search engine Bing designed by Microsoft with 4.55% of French Internet users. Next comes Yahoo: 1.37%, followed by Ecosia: 0.77% and Qwant with 0.77%. The monopoly undeniably belongs to Google.

How many searches are carried out each day on search engines?

The giant Google occupies first place among the major engines most used by Internet users. In France, the average time spent by each user on his or her tablet is 52 minutes compared to 33 minutes on the computer. The Google results show that this software is a tool of high importance for Internet users as well as for marketing strategies. In addition, it outperforms the search engine market on tablets and smartphones with a score of almost 81% market share. A sample of more than 20 billion websites are scanned by the giant Google every day. The volume of searches continues to increase every year and more than 20% of searches are done by voice. Each user who logs on to Google performs an average of 3 to 4 searches per day. The age group that mostly uses Google to search is between 18 and 44.


Search engines do their utmost to offer the most qualitative content that responds to the query sought by the Internet user. This is why it is no longer surprising to read on the web more and more 'answer engines' to refer to search engines.

To gain traffic, you will need to play on these different elements in order to reach the best positions on the search results.

   Article written by Louis Chevant

Further reading

The complete guide to Internal Meshing

The step-by-step method to build your semantic cocoons, your mesh and the optimal tree structure of your website.