If you’ve followed any search engine optimization blog for any length of time, you have probably seen some discussion of search engine scoring methods. With the retrieval step, the search engine does not have anything that would be that useful just yet, as, in this example, it has a list of every webpage that mentions any combination of “best,” “place,” “eat,” and “sushi.” Thus, you can be fairly certain that the list includes all restaurants, regardless of whether or not they serve sushi, because almost all restaurant home pages are going to have some variant of “eat” in their copy, because that’s what you do at a restaurant. Thus, scoring becomes necessary, and a variety of signals are used to attempt to sort through the inverse index in search of those pages which are closest to what it is you are looking for. How each search engine does this is proprietary, but involves a blend of global signals (such as a website’s popularity), query signals (how well your query matches a website), and personalized signals (such as the searcher’s location).

Have you ever seen a bonsai tree? That’s what’s contained in our image for today’s blog. What you see when you see a bonsai tree is a tree that is of the exact same type as one of the telephone-pole-sized plants that you know and love, but, well, smaller. There is no breeding which causes this phenomenon, however. How, then, does it happen that a bonsai tree stays so tiny compared to its large relatives?