The 4 Stages of Search That All SEO Pros Should Know

The 4 Stages of Search That All SEO Pros Should Know

When you’re trying to optimize your website for search engines, it’s important to understand the different stages that they use to determine which websites to show in their results. Here are the four main stages of search:


This is when search engines send out “spiders” or “bots” to crawl websites and collect data about them. The collected data is then used to create an index, which is a database of all the websites that have been crawled. Google’s primary crawling program is “Googlebot” while Microsoft Bing has “Bingbot.” Each search engine has other specialized bots for visiting ads, mobile pages, and more. This stage of the search engines’ processing seems like child’s play, but there is a lot of complexity in what goes on within.


This is the process of taking the collected data and turning it into a format that can be displayed in search results. This usually involves converting HTML code into something that can be read by humans such as a webpage. The search engines categorize the rendering step as a subprocess within the crawling phase. In the process, fetching a webpage and then analyzing the content to understand how it would appear in a browser are two distinct processes. Rendering mostly becomes an issue in SEO for pages that have key portions of content based upon JavaScript/AJAX. 


A search engine index contains numerous keywords and keyword sequences, related to a list of all the web pages where those keywords are found similar to an index found in the back of a book. Indexing is when the collected data is added to the search engine’s index. Once a website is indexed, it can then be displayed in search results. The results are then displayed to the user, in order of relevance.


This is the process of determining where a website should be placed in the search results. This is usually based on factors like relevance, popularity, and authority. The difficulty involved with the ranking stage of search is so huge that it alone warrants multiple articles and books to describe. Many of the old PageRank algorithm’s DNA is still rooted in Google’s ranking algorithm. That link analysis algorithm also shaped many other search engines that developed similar types of methods. 

Nowadays, new page links are introduced every day, and Google calculates rankings in a sort of drip method – allowing for pages and changes to be factored in much more rapidly without necessitating a month-long link calculation process.

It is not just lexical

It has been noticed some practitioners consider such concerns to be merely unnecessary “gatekeeping” by elite SEOs.  But this couldn’t be further from the truth – the concepts are far from being only lexical. To some degree, various SEO veterans may indeed have confused the meanings of these terms. This can happen in all disciplines when those well-endowed with knowledge are discussing a shared understanding of what they are referring to. There is nothing innately wrong with that. As humans, we also tend to personify search engines and their processes because interpreting things by describing them as having familiar characteristics makes understanding simpler. There is also nothing wrong with that either. With that being said, this inaccuracy when talking about technical processes can be confusing and makes it more difficult for those trying to learn about the regulation of SEO. One can use the terms casually and imprecisely only to a degree or as jargon in conversation. Therefore, it is always best to know and understand the precise definitions of the stages of search engine technology. This will help you avoid making any mistakes that could damage your credibility.


The stages of search have distinct and critical functions within the overall process, which is why it’s so important to understand the difference between them. By understanding these four stages of search, you can optimize your website more effectively and ensure that it is visible to potential customers. All of these stages are important for SEOs to understand, as they all play a role in how well your website will perform in search results.

If you want to improve your website’s ranking, you need to make sure that it’s optimized for all of these stages. For example, if you’re trying to improve your website’s ranking, you need to make sure that your website is being crawled and indexed regularly. If you’re having trouble getting your website rendered properly, you need to focus on fixing any issues with your HTML code or JavaScript. And if you want to improve your website’s position in the search results, you need to focus on factors like relevance, popularity, and authority.

Remember, the goal of SEO is to help your website be found by people who are looking for what you have to offer. By understanding the different stages of search, you can be sure that you’re doing everything you can to help your website be found by the right people, at the right time.

AdToro Staff

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