Search Indexes: What You Should Know If You Want To Be Found Online

If you do not work in the world of online search, you probably do not give much thought to search indexes and who can blame you. The jargon can be intimidating, the advice is frequently conflicting, and some people’s eyes immediately glaze over when encountering words like “algorithm.” Still, if you are trying to promote an endeavor online, either by yourself or with the help of an online marketing firm, there are a few things you should know about search engines and how they connect you to your audience.

In the simplest terms, a search index is a catalog of every single web page on the internet. Search engines like Google and Bing use web crawlers to collect and analyze each page. By drawing upon hundreds of signals, they rank web pages and categorize them. The resulting index allows them to provide the most relevant links when people perform online searches. Of course, everyone is jockeying to appear on the first couple of pages because that will garner the most web traffic, which, in one way or another, can translate into profit. Unfortunately, determining the secret sauce that powers each search engine is not exactly easy. The formula each company uses is a closely guarded secret. While tips on improving your page rank abound, search engine optimization (i.e. making your site search engine friendly) is equal parts science and art. There are no guarantees, and while you can capitalize on trends, SEO is a long-term process that requires patience and focus.

It is important to keep in mind that search engines must keep pace with an increasingly technologically savvy population. Google implements approximately 500 improvements to its search engine algorithm annually. The thought of page rank calculations being modified almost twice daily could easily induce a panic attack, but keep in mind that these are mostly minor tweaks that, taken separately, have an incremental effect, which is barely noticeable. There are, however, major updates that fundamentally change our online search experience. Since June 2010, there have been a handful of these updates that reassert the same primary principal; the ultimate objective of any search engine is to provide the best answer as quickly as possible.

Some of these modifications are “under the hood” updates that do not affect how we build or optimize our websites. For example, the 2010 Caffeine Update was a revamping of Google’s indexing system. Before this change, Google’s index had several layers that were updated regularly but in large chunks. Refreshing a layer required Google to analyze the entire web. This meant that there could be a significant delay between posting new content and its appearance in the index. Caffeine, on the other hand, analyzes the web in smaller segments and continuously updates the entire index. This results in fresher content and more relevant results. While some chose to take the emphasis on new content to heart, ultimately this did not require us to reevaluate how we build and promote websites.

Conversely, other updates change how Google analyzes and ranks your pages. These algorithmic changes, such as Panda and Search Plus Your World, incite discourse that runs the gamut from panicked to thoughtful. While it is true that ignoring the specific lessons they impart will be detrimental to your page rank, mostly they serve as a steadfast reminder that high quality, relevant content on well-designed sites trumps everything else. They also encourage us to integrate new aspects of the online experience into our websites if we want to maintain or boost our rank.

If you approach search engines from a user’s perspective, it is mostly common sense; stay current and contribute in a meaningful way. There are not any magic tricks, short cuts, or secret formulas that will usher you to the top of search engine results. There are, however, several small factors that when combined translate into a solid page rank which truly reflects the value of your site. If search engine optimization sounds time consuming and demanding, that is precisely why many people choose to hire someone to manage their online presence. Whether you engage the service of an online marketing firm or choose to do it yourself, search engines directly influence the trajectory of your business, and SEO is a worthwhile investment essential to 21st century success.

People Generally Do Not Give Much Thought To Search Indexes, But There Are Some Things Everyone Should Know About Search Engines And How To Be Found Online. To learn more visit


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