How a search engine works

All search engines work differently but the main three (Google, Yahoo and Bing) all share similar characteristics. These search engines use a combination of on page and off page factors to rank all web pages.

Please Note: Throughout this section we’ll refer to Google but the same principles apply to the other major search engines

Getting Listed in Google

All the major search engines use robot spiders which are capable of viewing web pages and following links to discover new web pages and content so as long as your site is being linked to from other websites it will be included within the search engines.

However, you can add your site to Google and Bing easily by following these links and is something we would recommend doing. You only need to submit your homepage and it will take a little time for Google to visit your site and include it within its search results so there’s no need to resubmit if your site doesn’t appear straight away.

Search Engine Rankings

Search engine rankings are determined by two factors, topic and quality. The topic factor ensures that you rank for the relevant search query while the quality factor determines where in the search results a web page will rank for that query. A web page that gets both of these factors right will rank higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).


Topic is mainly based around on-page factors and content but inbound links also play a part depending on the context of the link and anchor text used.

To understand what Google sees when looking at your site, you simply need to view source of the page as this is exactly what Google will view.

Don’t worry about the technology used (, PHP, JAVA etc) as search engines all view the HTML that is output from these server side programming languages.


Quality is determined by off-page factors, mainly inbound links but things like domain age and outbound links to authority sites may also be taken into consideration.

Search engines consider links from one website to another as a vote and therefore the more votes that you have the better, however the text that is around the link, the text used in the link and the overall content of the page are all important when considering the value of a link.

It’s worth keeping in mind that one link from a highly reputable website within your industry on a page that is relavant is likely to be much more valuable than 100 links from websites that are unrelated.

How to Rank Well in Google

To rank well in Google, you need to take all of the above aspects and do them well. For competitive topics, you may have millions of other websites that your site is competing with so it’s important to cover all of the aspects above and do them well.

For more information on improving your SEO rankings, have a look at the other articles within the search engine optimisation section