The Beast With 1,000 Heads

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Hi Team,

After my last blog post on the new clickable results arrows inside Market Samurai, I wanted to give you some insights into search engines that will save you a lot of unnecessary confusion and frustration – and give you a better understanding of the way search engines work.

Now that you’re getting closer to the raw data sources, and doing deeper analysis, it’s important that you know about the way that Google, Yahoo and other search engines keep their data.

Otherwise, some of their “quirks” can cause confusion.

The Beast with 1,000 Heads…

Most people believe that Google is a single mega-computer.

This is untrue.

In fact, it’s a series of perhaps thousands of computers (servers) – all working together to provide Google users with results for their search queries.

Keeping thousands of computers up-to-date with all of the changes that are happening online is a mammoth task!

These thousands of servers are constantly being updated with new information – but it doesn’t all happen at once.

This means, depending on which server Google gets your results from, you can see slightly different results server-to-server.

Which Data Source is Correct?

It can be confusing for some people, when they see an SEO Competitor count of [say] 104,000 for a keyword inside Market Samurai, and 102,000 when doing a search manually on the same keyword – in “quotes”, just like Market Samurai does.

They ask “Which data source is correct?” or start to wonder if they can trust Market Samurai results since they’re different to what they see manually.

It can be confusing for people if they don’t understand the way servers are structured – but the truth is simple if you know…

Both numbers are accurate.

They both come from the same data source (Google) – and an end user is just as likely to see either.

When you’re doing analysis, it’s rare that the numbers will be substantially different (normally they’ll be fairly close to one-another if there is ANY difference at all.) So it shouldn’t make too much difference to any analysis.

However, if you have concerns, it’s wise to use the more conservative number – the number that works least in your favor.

And now that you know this little tit-bit about how search engines operate, you now know more about the technology behind search engines than many professional SEO’s. :)