Ever wonder how Google googles and Yahoo! yahoos? Search engines connect human language with the digital world of 10110101010. It's no wonder people are fascinated by the World Wide Web of information and the search engines that organize it for us---or at least try to.
Take a look at how search engines work and how you can use this knowledge to make sure your search engine marketing campaign is on the right track.
How Search Engines Work: Step 1
According to webopedia.com, search engines are programs, or "an organized list of instructions that, when executed, causes the computer to behave in a predetermined manner."1 You might wonder what that predetermined manner might be. Basically "the predetermined processes" start with the "launch of a spider (or a program) that is designed to access and copy a website's pages on the World Wide Web.
Search Engine Marketing: Step 1
If you want your pages ranked well by search engines, it's important to work in conjunction with the engine spiders. You can help the spider easily access your website by utilizing the right URLs. URLs that are not complex and that are easily translated by a DNS server are the type of URLs that you want to enlist on your website. Dynamic URLs that are automatically generated by content management systems are NOT generally search engine friendly. In fact, many search engines will penalize any dynamic URLs found in your website. You can of course use a URL translator to change non-search friendly dynamic URLs to friendlier versions of dynamic URLs, or if you wish, you can create a static URL for every content page on your website (which can be less convenient). At any rate, it's simply better to have more legible URLs. According to an article on searchtools.com, "Readable URLs are good for more than being found by local and webwide search engine robots. Humans feel more comfortable with consistent and intuitive paths, recognizing the date or product name in the URL."2
How Search Engines Work: Step 2
When a spider "spiders" web pages, it will also gather keyword data and make lists of that data. The data will eventually be stored in search engine databases and will be organized and implemented according to the specific algorithms of any given search engine. Some search engines gather all the content words on any given content page but Google will gather only the "important" keywords and discard words like "the" "and" or "an." Some engines will also use word stemming to get a list of words in their simplest formats. This may or may not present to you some ideas for search engine marketing applications.
Search Engine Marketing: Step 2
When you develop content and label any type of media (videos, podcasts, etc.) within the text or code of your content pages, you need to make sure that your content includes all the possible vocabulary that has a valid connection to your business. Remember, this does not give you a "search engine marketing excuse" to use the words or phrases that are the most popular on your website content. Phrases like "Britney Spears," or "weather," will eventually discredit your website or even manage to get it blacklisted if those words have nothing to do with the products or services that you provide. Besides, your goal is likely to get qualified customers to your website, not to attract those surfers looking for the latest Britney Spears video. For search engine marketing purposes you might also wonder how much the capitalization (or lack thereof) of key terms may make a difference for your website's meta data. According to searchenginewatch.com,3 some search engines are indeed case-sensitive. However, the Search Engine Watch content referred to for this article also expresses what is likely to be the general consensus by most SEOs who don't have a lot of extra time on their hands:
"The simple answer is to relax and stick with lower case. That's because practically everyone searches in lower case. Besides that, most search engines are not completely case sensitive."
At any rate, it's great to continue your studies about search engines because it can help you develop ideas about search engine marketing.