SEO Optimization: Understanding How Search Engines Work

  • SumoMe

Even if you wish to outsource SEO work, it is best that a business owner have at least some basic knowledge on how search engines work.  It can be mundane reading for the uninitiated but for those who understand the importance of this foundational knowledge, it’s quite exciting and ‘revealing’.

Although there are a multitude of SEO optimization factors that affect search engine rankings, it’s best to view search engines in terms of their purpose, which is: To provide the most relevant and useful information in response to a search.  They do this by crawling the web, creating an index, calculating the perceived relevance of the web pages, and finally, showing these results to their users.

SEO Optimization: Understanding How Search Engines Work

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Search engines have to go through billions of pages and files posted on the internet.  They accomplish this task using web crawlers that go through all of the pages and files primarily through links that connect them to one another.  Once they’ve located all the pages, they grab the unique codes of each and store them in indexes so that they may easily be pulled out when later searched for.

Of course, search engines don’t just pull things out at random.  They respond to searches by trying to give users the most relevant and useful results they can find, and then they have the daunting task of ranking these according to their perceived value of results.  Ranking the hordes of relevant results is largely dependent on their ‘popularity’.  This is where SEO Optimization is needed and effective.  Search engines generally rely on the assumption that the more popular a site is, the more important and useful its information must be.

In the earlier years, search engines merely picked out relevant results based on certain keywords that the pages contained.  However, they later found that this was an easy system to fool and companies could use keyword stuffing to increase their rankings.  Nowadays, search engines make use of a large number of factors that are much more difficult to cheat.  The popularity and relevance of pages are determined by complex algorithms with a multitude of components.  These are known as “ranking factors”.

Most ranking factors are unknown by most people other than the engineers who designed them.   However, some of the known ranking factors are these:

  • The number of sites linking to a particular webpage
  • The relevance of the page’s content
  • Updates made to the index
  • User-friendliness of a particular page
  • Clear text links so that pages are easily reachable
  • Keywords in the pages and in the domain
  • Keywords in the anchor texts
  • And many more!

When you outsource SEO responsibilities, you don’t have to worry about these factors as you now have professionals taking care of these matters for you.  And now that you have a basic understanding of how search engines work, this becomes a good time to think of SEO Optimization for your own site.


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