Understanding how Search Engines work is the first step to understanding how to set up your website so that it will rank well in Search Results. Most people using a Search Engine like Google or Yahoo assume that when they type in a search term, the Search Engine begins to go out the the internet world looking for the websites that match up to the terms searched for.
If that were the way it actually worked, the searchers would be have to wait hours or days for every search result. Since we live in a much less patient world how Search Engines actually work is a little different.
A Search Engine, like Google, sends runs a program (commonly referred to as a spider, robot or crawler) that goes out over the connections of the internet, following links between web pages, gathering information from the various websites it comes across and stores that information on the Search Engines Data Base. In effect it copies or takes a snap shot of everything it finds, and determines what that information relates to.
When a search is actually done by a human user, the information produced by the Search Engine is derived from the information it has stored that relates to that search. For the sake of reliable consistent search results in the fastest possible fashion, the search you do on a Search Engine is really limited to the information it has previously collected and stored in it’s own data base.
Building your website in a way that will come up well in those search results is going to be determined by what the Search Engines search program finds when it gets to your site. Making your website easy to be found is going to be determined by that search engines program deciding if it is relevant to any search.
Here are a couple of concepts to consider. First, you don’t really want your website to be found for every search that is ever performed on a Search Engine. As a business owner you may think this would be great but if your website gets a reputation for having nothing to do with what searchers are looking for two things will happen. Consumers will recognize it and refuse to go to it even when it may have something related to a given search because they know it has had nothing of value in the last fifty searches they have done. And more likely, the Search Engine itself will flag your website as worthless to any search result and remove you from its own index.
The second concept is that you really do want the Search Engine to find you relevant in results that relate to the product or service you have to offer. However the Search Engine is using a program, a spider to make this determination, not a human. So speaking the language of the Search Spider or having a Search Engine Friendly Design is the first step in Search Engine Optimization.
You can have a gorgeous website filled with pictures and visually appealing content and background music, but if that search spider cannot determine how it relates to a search you will never be found.