The exact nature of search engines and how they work will vary from one engine to the next. The bigger ones such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing have similar conceptual mechanics and solid white hat search optimization techniques will positively influence a websites rankings in all three.
Search engines are powered by elaborate, forever growing, and changing algorithms that are fed data from spiders and bots that run around the net collecting data from one website to the next. For example Google, the worlds most popular search engine and website for that matter, has a program or bot that they refer to as GoogleBot.
GoogleBot will find a website and analyze the code of the website and take a copy or download of all or part of the site back to its digital home where another bot or program will categorize and index the site in the relevant categories and search algorithms that are appropriate. If a user searches for a related keyword of a site that is indexed by that particular search engine then the search engine will display the site listings for that particular website in the search results or output.
No one knows exactly how google and Yahoo or Bing work but we do know some general concepts that are significant to all three. though you should know that the exact algorithms that these search engines operate with are kept as secret as possible and all three are different from one another though you will generally find that there results will have the same or close to the same sites listed for certain keywords though the positioning will be different and will constantly shift and change as more and more data and info is indexed and more and more publishers submit and change content.
Here is the basic idea of what the search engines are looking for when the calculate page rank or search engine listing positions:
Search Engine Rank Variables - (Obviously Speculative)
- Number of incoming links
- Quality of incoming links
- URL Name
- Meta tags
- Relevance of site content
- Size of the site
- Use and interaction of users with the site
- Organization of the site
- How the site advertises and more specifically where does traffic originate
- Traffic Quality
- Age of the Site
- Brand Name and Recognition
- Navigation structure
- Content focus
Mechanics of a Google Search