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Search engine algorithm

A search engine algorithm is the formula, or set of rules, a search engine uses to order and rank web pages against each other.

Expanded Definition

The algorithm is often the primarily differentiator between search engines as it what determines which web pages a front-end user sees for a particular search term. In the search industry, a algorithm that provides the most relevant results can be described as the ultimate competitive advantage.


Algorithms typically take into account both on and offpage elements based around the search term the user provides. The onpage elements related to these keywords can include:

  • Use on the page
  • Use in the page's title
  • Use of related words on the page. Also known as latent semantic analysis
  • Use in the page's headers
  • Use in the URL

The first search engines primarily used these onpage elements soley to rank pages. Since these elements are largely influencable by website owners wishing to rank their sites in front of others, they have become a less-weighted part of major search engines' algorithms.

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