It can be hard to understand how Google works and what SEO is all about. Even Google’s engineers don’t know exactly how the search engine works due to its reliance on machine learning. This has led to some confusing claims around SEO which makes it even more difficult for business owners to understand what is, and isn’t best practices and what will help them to drive traffic and leads from search engines.
In this post we look at the basic concepts of how search engines work, this should give you the basics required to understand why different elements of SEO are important and why your SEO agency may be doing what they’re doing.
Crawling and Indexing
The very first step, before Google can rank your website, is for them to find and store your web pages.
Crawling refers to Google discovering different content across the website. This can be through finding different links on websites, making use of sitemaps and details being submitted directly to Google.
Indexing is when Google stores the information it’s found within its database which is referenced whenever a search is completed.
The main aim of technical SEO is to take care of these issues to make sure that Google can crawl and index your content. If Google can’t do either of these things then your content cannot rank.
Understand What Your Content Is
The next step is for Google to understand what your content is and what search terms they should consider it for. Google only wants to show relevant results so this step is extra important for them as delivering poor results may see people switching to different search engines.
There are three main points to consider when looking at this from an SEO perspective:
- Do I have the right content – This is where keyword research comes into place and identifies content and topics that your website needs to have in order to meet what people are searching for.
- Can Google understand the content – Whilst Google is getting better and better at understanding content, you need to remember they’re not as good as a person. It’s therefore important that you give Google as much help as possible to understand exactly what your page is about. (This should be done without disrupting the experience of actual people visiting your website)
- Does it meet searcher’s intent – This is similar to the first point, however you need to also consider if your website has the right outcome for the searcher. For example if you had a page giving you information about a plumber’s career options, whilst it will have a lot of information about plumbers, this isn’t going to rank for “plumbers” because most people searching for that are looking to hire a plumber.
Indications Of Quality
The next thing that search engines look for is an indication of whether the content is of high quality or not. This is where backlinks come in.
Backlinks are like votes for websites content. Simply the more votes you have the better your content should be and the higher your content should rank. This is mainly due to the fact that most website owners wouldn’t send their website visitors to websites they wouldn’t trust.
However it’s important to understand that not all votes are the same. Just looking at quantity is likely to do more harm than good to your website. You also have to look at quality and relevance. As Google has an understanding of what different websites are about and how other websites trust them they can give more worth to some websites backlinks above others.
Gives A Good User Experience
The final and the newest addition to the basic elements is whether the website gives a good user experience or not. The basics of this and questions you should ask regardless of SEO are:
- Does my website work and look good across all devices?
- Does my website take too long to load?
- Is it easy for the websites visitors to find the information they’re after?
By doing these things you’re ensuring that your website is one that Google will be happy to send it’s searchers to and are therefore more likely to rank higher.
You should now have a better understanding of how search engines work and the different elements which need to be considered when undertaking SEO. You can visit our SEO page to find out more information about how we can help you.