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How Search Engine Works in Displaying Search Results

Last updated: Dec 27, 2022

How Search Engine Works in Displaying Search Results
Cover image: Illustration of a search engine as a storehouse of information that provides answers to questions. Find out how it works in this guide.

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For those of you who search the internet, you must be familiar with Google, Bing, or other engines. However, do you know how this search engine works in displaying the results you want?

In this guide, we'll help you understand how search engine works in detail so you can get the most out of them. Check out the full explanation below.

How Search Engine Works

Figure 1: Illustration of a Google page display as the largest search engine in the world. Knowing how search engine works will help website managers perform SEO optimization.

If likened to, a search engine is a repository of information that contains answers to various questions. The way search engines work is to browse, understand, and manage various content on the internet. The goal is to provide the most relevant information to the searchers' questions.

As a website manager, your job is to ensure that your website can appear in search results, or SERPs. A website must be found by search engines first to be able to appear in the SERP.

Therefore, you must understand how search engine works in finding, storing, and displaying your website to searchers. Knowledge of how it works can help you overcome various crawling problems, indexing pages, and optimize rankings.

Search Algorithm

Search engines work by using a robot called a web crawler. This robot explores various websites on the internet on a regular basis to find new pages or changes made to the website and saves them into a database called Index.

Technically, how search engine works is based on three stages, namely: crawling, indexing, and ranking. If you want your website to appear in search results, you must ensure that search engines can complete all three stages smoothly.


Figure 2: Illustration of the code displayed on a website. Web crawlers perform crawling and indexing to find pages and store them in the database.

Crawling is a search process carried out by crawling robots to find content on a website. Searched content can be in the form of pages, photos, videos, PDF files, and so on.

The crawling process is not only done once on each website but repeatedly on a regular basis. This is because every website will always update its content. By crawling, web crawlers can find new content or old ones that have recently been updated.

How Crawling Works

In conducting searches on websites, web crawlers work by relying on URL links. This robot starts a search from one or more pages (usually the main page), then the robot will follow every link on that page. This process will continue from one page to another.

However, not all links will be searched by web crawlers. Using an algorithmic process, web crawlers can determine which links need to be crawled, how often to crawl, and how many links these robots will search. 

Best Practices

As a website manager, you must know what content is important and where you want to appear in search engines. You also need to implement best practices that can help web crawlers find your content, which are:

  • Use robot.txt - Define which pages crawling robots can and can not visit using robot.txt. With this file, the robot will only visit important pages on the website. 
  • Make website navigation properly - Make sure each page can be accessed no more than four clicks from the main page so that crawlers can find each page easily. 
  • Avoid duplicate content - Web crawlers will not crawl pages that contain similar or the same information as other pages that have already been crawled. 
  • Fix broken internal linksInternal links that point to pages with broken links or 301 redirects can hinder the crawling process. It can also drain your crawl budget.

If your website is experiencing crawl errors, you can follow our guide on how to deal with crawl errors effectively.


After crawling, the crawler will index every page that has been searched on the website. Indexing is the process by which crawlers understand the content of a page and store it in a database.

You need to know that not all pages that crawler robots have searched will be indexed. There are several factors that cause a page to be indexed or not. By knowing how the indexing process works, you can optimize that process on your website.

How Indexing Works

The way indexing works is by analyzing the contents of the content along with the tags and attributes in it, such as meta tags, text, images, videos, alt tags, and others. Pages that have been analyzed will then be stored in a large database called the search engine index.

This database contains all content that has been searched by web crawlers, and the content that is considered worthy of being presented to search engine users.

Best Practices

As previously mentioned, not all pages are indexed by search engines. There are several factors that can hinder the indexing process, such as duplicate content issues, low quality content, or website design that make the indexing process difficult.

To maximize the indexing process, you can apply the following best practices:

  • Sitemap - Used to tell search engines what pages are on the website and whether they can be indexed. 
  • Plagiarism - Avoid plagiarism issues by providing content with a different point of view compared to other existing content. 
  • Internal links - Use internal links to link relevant pages. This method can help search engines understand the context of the page better. 
  • Google Search Console - Use GSC to detect any issues with the indexing process on each page. 
  • Noindex tag - You can prevent search engines from showing less important pages in the SERP by using the noindex tag in the HTTP response on those pages. 
  • Apply on-page SEO - Apply on-page optimization to make your pages easier for search engines to read.

If you find it difficult to create a sitemap and robot.txt, you can use the tools from cmlabs to help you create an XML sitemap and robot.txt in an instant and beginner-friendly way.


Search engines use the data in the index to find answers to searches made by users. By using an algorithm, search engines will present the most relevant content for the keywords entered by the searchers.

The most relevant and high-authority website pages will get the top ranking in search results.

How Ranking Works

The way search engines work in providing rankings on each website page will go through several processes.

  1. Search engines will perform an analysis of the query used by the user as well as the context of the query being searched for.
  2. After understanding the query, the search engine will perform a search in the index to find any pages that match it. 
  3. Pages that match the query will then be sorted by relevance and quality. 
  4. After all pages are ranked, the search engine will display the search results to the user.

Best Practices

To improve your ranking on the SERP, you need to know what factors are used to assess website pages. By knowing these factors, you can perform optimization according to SEO best practices. Here are the factors and tips to optimize your web pages:

  • Quality content - Create quality content that is relevant and able to meet the needs of the audience. 
  • User experience - Prioritize user convenience with a fast, mobile-friendly, and secure website. 
  • Domain authority - Do link building to build the credibility of your website.

That's how search engine works in searching, understanding, and managing various kinds of information on the internet to be presented to searchers. Hopefully, by understanding how it works, you can perform optimization so that your website can be found and displayed on the SERP.

If you experience problems related to indexing or want to improve website rankings, use SEO Consulting Services that can help with the website optimization process professionally.

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