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What search engines want from you



What search engines want from you

It is fair to say that Google is the undisputed king of search engines. According to research by WebpageFX, it currently has a US market share of 81 per cent, while both Bing and Yahoo! hover around eight per cent. In 2012, Google answered a staggering 1.2 trillion queries and generated a thoroughly impressive $10 billion in revenue each quarter. But what do search engines want?

What search engines want from you

With such a strong grip on the market, you would think that Bing and Yahoo! would simply give up. However, as Google has proved, there is plenty of earning potential with search engines and so both of its main competitors continue to invest copious amounts of time, effort and resources into their offerings.

Even though Google reigns supreme and probably will do for the foreseeable future, alternative search engines such as Bing and Yahoo! do have several advantages for both businesses and consumers. It could be argued that Bing has greater functionality and options when searching for images and videos, while Yahoo!’s homepage is like a magazine, giving the user an assortment of information and content.

But how exactly do search engines work?  What are their similarities and differences? And last but by no means least; What do search engines want and do all search engines want the same thing from you?


How do search engines work?

Essentially, there are two major things that search engines do. First and foremost, they crawl and index the billions of web pages, documents, files, news articles, images and videos that exist on the Internet. Second of all, they search for and provide answers to user queries by looking at this database and delivering relevant pages through retrieval and rankings.

In order to ‘crawl’ this vast network of pages, search engines find a path through links, which interconnect nearly each and every document on the web. The ‘spiders’ that find these pages decipher the code, store them away in one of numerous data centres all over the world and recall information as and when required.

When it comes to providing answers, search engines have to sift through a virtual mountain of resources in order to deliver relevant results to the user’s query and rank these by perceived usefulness. In the early days of search, relevance simply referred to finding the right words on a page, which several sites took advantage of. But as engineers worked on improving algorithms, the quality of results improved, and today search engines look at hundreds of factors to determine relevance.

In terms of importance, most search engines typically operate on a popularity basis. Therefore, the sites that receive more visitors than others will be rewarded with ranking supremacy. This is possible thanks to carefully crafted algorithms that take a whole host of factors into consideration, but always have the user’s best interests at heart.


What are the similarities and differences between search engines?

Any brand or business that wants to get better rankings should adhere to a search engine’s webmaster guidelines, which are readily available online. Gone are the days when manipulative SEO tactics would generate favourable results, as algorithms are now incredibly advanced when analysing and indexing web pages.


Google guidelines

  • Google prioritises quality and therefore believes webmasters should build websites that are primarily for users, not search engines.
  • Websites should have a clear hierarchy and text links. It is desirable for each and every page to be accessible from at least one static link.
  • Google does not want you to deceive users or present it with different content to what the individual sees, which is known as cloaking.
  • Websites should be useful and rich with information. Pages must clearly and accurately describe content, which includes <title> elements and ALT attributes.
  • URLs should include create descriptions and be user-friendly.


Bing guidelines

  • Bing wants every website to have a clean, keyword rich URL structure in place.
  • It is preferable that content is not buried inside rich media such as Adobe Flash Player, JavaScript and Ajax. These plug-ins and languages should not hide links from crawlers either.
  • Bing says keyword-rich content should be produced regularly and based on research in order to match what users are searching for.
  • If you want text to be indexed, don’t put it inside images. Bing gives the example of displaying a company’s name or address inside their logo image, which is not a good idea.


Yahoo! guidelines

  • Yahoo! wants to be a secondary concern. Users should be given priority.
  • Content should be original and of genuine value. This can include hyperlinks, which help users find the results they are looking for.
  • Website metadata, including the title and description, should accurately describe the contents of a page.
  • Yahoo! frowns upon content that harms the accuracy or relevancy of search results and sites dedicated to redirecting the user to another page (doorway pages).
  • It also doesn’t like multiple sites or pages with the same content, which may have been generated automatically.


Do all search engines want the same thing from you?

In many respects, yes they do. Google, Bing and Yahoo! want to crawl and index sites that are going out of their way to provide a superior user experience, regardless of whether they adhere to ever-changing search engine algorithms. But this creates a problem for the majority of businesses looking for results and ranking dominance, as their sites still need to be picked up on and graded according to relevance and importance.

Therefore, the advice for anyone looking to achieve SERP success is to build a user-orientated website, which features an abundance of original, top-notch content and complies with technical guidelines. After this has been built and constructed, you can then work on optimising it for Google, Bing and Yahoo! so that as many potential customers can view it as possible. However, any changes or adjustments must not have a negative influence on the user’s overall browsing experience, as this should remain your prime concern.

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