Search engines drive the web – and the success of the businesses that share their products and services on it. In this article we look at search engine basics, and explain how understanding and exploiting them can help your business to reach more people, more effectively.
What are search engines?
We’re all familiar with how Google search has revolutionised our lives. Where just fifteen years ago we’d have had to have delved into an encyclopaedia, headed down to the library or bought a newspaper to find information or get up to date on what’s going on in the world, now we have access to all of this at the click of a mouse – or the uttering of ‘OK, Google’. Most of us know in basic terms what search engines are and what they do. But having a deeper appreciation for how they work and why they operate in the way that they do can have massively positive implications for your business’ success on the web.
How do search engines work?
Search engines are complex beasts – but their intricate formulas and methodologies can be broken down for anybody to understand. Essentially, all search engines (using different computer programs and formulas known as algorithms) work in a similar fashion. They relentlessly scour the web for content (video, text, images). A list is then compiled and constantly updated containing all this content – this is known as indexing. They then determine the relevancy of content and rank it per each individual search. It’s therefore an ever-changing landscape and search giants are secretive about the way in which they determine which sites are relevant – but appreciating the known methodology behind indexing and ranking can help you to expose your business to relevant customers likely to engage with you and spend money with you. Find more on how search engines work here.
How can I use search engines to my advantage?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It refers to the initial and ongoing practice of ensuring a website is specifically set up to receive as much organic traffic as possible from search engines – as well as taking care of external influencers such as social media. There are many individual threads to this discipline – some technical, some rather basic (such as quality content, regular updates and having a site that’s responsive on all platforms). It’s advisable to partner up with an experienced SEO company to help you to ensure that your site is ready to make money for your business and become a viable marketing tool. Some companies charge extortionate amounts in return for promises they can’t keep, whilst others use ‘black hat’ techniques with potentially disastrous consequences, like being removed from Google altogether. So do your research and always ask for testimonials and case studies (you can find ours here).
More than just search
Search engines now offer much, much more than a simple search. Using arguably the most popular search engine Google as a case in point, there are many other related, interlinking services that complement searches for users and companies alike, and can therefore boost your web presence. YouTube for example is owned by Google, whilst Google’s social network Google Plus directly links and refers posts as a matter of priority to ranking results. Google For Business enables you to get on the map when people conduct local searches for the services or products you provide – complete with information such as telephone numbers and reviews so that searchers can quickly make a decision and spend money with you. We’ll be covering these in further detail later on in the series – so stay tuned to find out more about how working with search engines such as Google can help you to augment revenue and increase your profit margins.