Search Engines and Algorithms, Part 1

Dennis Faas's picture

I am in aw e.

Yesterday, I asked Infopackets Readers to visit and submit comments about this newsletter. There were a number of entries, but one comment in particular caught my eye (especially the last line).

Douwe F. from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia writes:

" [What I really like about] The Infopackets Gazette [are the newsletter topics, which are] explained in clear language. Although I am an IT professional, I enjoy reading all the various articles [written by Dennis, and I especially enjoy the] different perspective on issues [which are presented to readers]. I find this newsletter particularly useful [because it] gets new users 'up and running' in the technical world of computing, [by providing] the confidence to learn and experiment [the issues for themselves]. My wife loves [the Gazette newsletter] and is learning a lot ... maybe a bit too much. "

Thanks Douwe, for your wonderfully sincere comments!

All of this sudden exposure has prompted me to step back and think for a moment: what other ways can people find out about

The answer: through search engines.

This leads me to my next point: Have you ever wondered how some web sites rank higher than others, especially in search engines like Google? Well, the quick-and-simple answer is that search engines use specialized algorithms to retrieve (and produce) search results. You probably remember hearing me talk about algorithms before: it's a techy term which simply describes a method. In the case of a search engine, the algorithm defines the order in which web sites are displayed (with respect to a search query).

Side note: Statistically, the first web site listed in a search result will receive the most clicks, compared to other web sites in the list which have related content.

For example: searching for the phrase "windows newsletter" using Google ranks as the first result in the list of 3.45 million possibilities. So, is it likely that anyone would click on all 3.45 million sites for this keyword search? The answer is no: the chances of finding relevant information within the first 5 sites listed is usually the case.

[ Continued ]

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