You can think of a Search Engine like a massive library for the information age. However instead of accumulating thousands of copies of books, they warehouse copies of billions of websites.
When you go to enter your search query into Google, it will look through every page within its index to try to return the most relevant search results to you.
To handle this monumental task, Google uses a proprietary computer program known as an algorithm. No one knows exactly how their algorithms work, but we have been given a few clues, at least as far as Google is concerned.
Here is what they have to say on their “How search works” page:
To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words within your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query – for example, the freshness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics than it does about dictionary definitions.
While we’re on the subject, we’re highlighting this search engine because it’s the one most of us use—at least as far as web searches go. It’s no accident, and it’s primarily because they have the most dependable algorithm by far. With that said, there are several other search engines you can optimize for.
How SEO Works
In the simplest terms, Search Engine Optimization works because you can demonstrate to any search engine that your website contains the best result for the search query at hand.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have the exact same goal: To show the search engine users the best, most relevant results, every time. This consistency is what keeps most of us utilizing Google, because the information they give back is far more reliable than what you get from Bing or Yahoo.