Search Engines have become part of our every day life. Google is both a noun (the name of the company) and an action (every day we hear someone say, “Google it”). Google alone averaged 5,922,000,000 searches per day in 2013. One of the biggest things I have learned while working in SEO is that most people have no idea what happens when they search. So today I bring you the 3 things you should know about search engines.
What You Should Know
1. How Search Engines Work
This can get really complicated. Search engines are constantly changing how they work. At their core, search engines operate by sending robots out to scan the internet. These robots index everything they see. So basically when you search the web with a search engine you are not searching the entire web, you are searching that search engines index of the web. This video does a much better job explaining the process. It’s a little dated but will do the trick.
2. Search Is Personalized
I mentioned that the video above is a little dated. In the video Matt Cutts said that Google asks about 200 with every search. Google now also asks 80 questions about you. If you are logged into Google they can provide very personalized answers based on your history, location, device you are using, and so much more. If you are not logged in the personalization is based more on the history and location of the machine that you are using. This personalization can be very frustrating for small business owners that still have the mindset of wanting to, “rank #1 for their keywords.”
3. Search Is Getting Smarter
So we just talked about personalized search results. Search engines are learning even more about us every time we use our smart phone. Mobile search is on the rise. Many are predicting that mobile search will pass desktop search sometime late this year. Bing helps Siri perform searches on iPhones and also helps Facebook with their search function. Google is of course the search engine of choice on Android phones. The combination of search and mobile has allowed search engines to not only help us search the web, but now they help us search our phone and every service connected with our phone. The image below is a screen shot from my phone. You can see that Google is not only searching the web and offering suggestions but also searching my phone.
I hope this has shed some light on what happens when you perform a search. We trust search engines with information that we may not even want our best friends and family to know. In my opinion search engines are currently using that information to make their products better and to make our lives easier. There are two main points I’d like to end on.
- Consumers- Understand what is being done with your personal information. If you are not comfortable with what is being done you may have to go out of your way to find alternatives
- Small Business Owners- Understand how search engines deliver information. This will help guide your inbound marketing strategy and decision making. Understanding this will make you a stronger marketer.