Hello everyone!

Today we are going to go in depth of the complex world of search. The earliest search engine was launched in 1990. Named ‘Archie’, it was a tool for indexing FTP archives, allowing people to find specific files.

Fast forward to two-and-a-half decades, 81.1 billion USD was spent on digital marketing in 2016, half of it went in search engine marketing. Hence, the potential of search marketing speaks for itself. Let us look try and decode some of the aspects of search.


Search query

The words and phrases that people type into a search box in order to pull up a list of results.

Figure 1: Search query

There are three types of search queries, which are as follows:

  • Navigational search query: These are search queries entered with the intention of finding a particular website or page. For example, a user typing ‘YouTube’ into the URL bar to find the ‘YouTube’ site. Interestingly, ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’ are the top two searches on google, both are navigational queries
  • Informational search query: These are search queries that cover a broad topic for which there would be an infinite number of results. For example, a user typing ‘Calcutta’ or ‘Bus’ is probably looking for information or trying to learn how to do something.
  • Transactional search query: These are search queries that indicate an intent to complete transaction, such as making a purchase. These may be generic such as ‘mobile phones under 20k’, or may include exact brand or product name such as ‘Samsung galaxy s3’. Many local searches such as ‘Wine shop in Delhi’ may be transactional in nature as well


How search engines work

Each search engine has their secret way of doing things, which they do not reveal too much. However, a basic process is followed by every search engine.

Crawling: Systematic browsing of the web to collect information for indexing, and to help searchers find what they are looking for. This is done by internet bots called ‘crawlers’ or ‘spiders’.

Indexing: The process of categorization of digital content into systematic lists of web pages, to be used by search engines to provide relevant results to the searchers.

Ranking: It is the process of positioning of a listing or result on the search engine results page, according to the relevance of content.

Figure 2: Search ranking

Results: The outcome of a search query, displayed on a search engine results page.


Figure 3: Search Engine Results Page




What search engines look for

Web crawlers look for specific things to determine the ranking of a webpage.

Content: The relevance of the content displayed on a website of page is of utmost importance in determining its position

Figure 4: Relevant content

Coding: The back office of a website, crawlers look at the coding for information related to the site. A Content Management System (CMS) may be used to modify page codes

Figure 5: Updating codes for search

Descriptive words: These provide additional information helping the spiders index a website better

Alternate text: Crawlers unfortunately cannot see images, it can only see HTML version of it. Alternate text can be inserted in the HTML to tell the crawlers, and even the visitors about the type of image it is

Figure 6: ‘Kanye Laughing’ is an example of alternate text

Optimized visibility: Responsive sites, which adapt its visibility according to the type of device on which it is being viewed are ranked higher

Figure 7: Responsive website

Meta tags: A few lines of text appearing on the SERP, just under the title tag. Also called meta-descriptors, these gives further information about a page

Figure 8: Meta tag


Organic search explained

SEO: An acronym for Search Engine Optimization, it is the process of positively affecting the visibility of a webpage in the search engine’s unpaid (organic) results page by increasing the quality score of that webpage.

Figure 9: SEO / Organic listing


Paid search explained

SEM: An acronym for Search Engine Marketing, it is a form of internet marketing that involves the promotion of a webpage/ site by increasing their visibility through paid advertising. Google AdWords deals with SEM in for its own search engines and partner sites.

Figure 10: SEM / Paid listing

Paid search components

Organic formula: What works for SEO, also works for SEM in terms of quality score and relevance of content

Advertising models: There are various advertising models such as PPC, PPM, etc. which needs to be explored

Bidding auctions: Every single listing fights against its competitors via a bid. The bid amount, quality score, and other criteria work together to generate rankings on the SERP.

Keywords: Bids are placed on keywords- words and phrases, which are typically typed in by the users when they are looking for a business like yours

Figure 11: Keywords

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