How Search Engines Work
SEO Jargon Explained
When you uses a search engine to look for something you will get two sets of results.
- The paid for advertisements, called in-organic or Artificial search results.
- The listings under them, called natural or Organic search results.
People will click on the Organic search results 95% of the time.
People searching for things online write what they are looking for into the search bar (the search term), they press enter and the search engine looks through the trillions of words it has indexed and finds matches for those words, then a list of web pages containing those words appears on the SERPS.
How Does The Search Engine Choose Which Web Pages To List?
The search engines use pieces of software called spiders or web crawlers or Bots (Googles spider is called the Google bot).
The spiders check and index every word and image on the 5 billion+ pages they can reach on the world-wide web, this process is called crawling.
The spiders also note over 200 key factors about those pages (such as how long the page takes to load, how well the content is written, how many pages link to that page etc..)
The set of rules which tells the spider what factors to look for is called the search algorithm, these search algorithms are adjusted continually to take account of shifts in the way people search, emergence of new technologies (mobile search, voice search etc... ) and to detect when people use dishonest methods to get higher listings for their web pages (Black Hat SEO).
Google tweaks its search algorithm 500-600 times a year.
The rating each page is given depending on how well it complies with these factors is the page authority.
The pages with words matching the search term are listed on the SERPS with the ones which have the highest page authority listed at the top.
This is true of both Organic and paid for search results. If a winning bidders paid for Ad has low page authority a lower priced Ad may appear instead.
Do Search Engine Results Matter?
Over 60% of your websites traffic will come through search engines, with 40% coming from referrals and other sources. If your website is not optimised for search engines you are missing out on over 60% of potential customers.
With 6.5 Billion searches being done every day no business can afford to miss this potential revenue stream
95% of people never go any further than page 1 of SERPS and 33% will go directly to the page at no.1 in the Organic listings.
Getting your webpages on page no.1 of SERPS will drive traffic to your website, it's like moving your shop from a side street to a busy high street. It's up to you to convert those visitors to customers.
You may want to look at this handy explanation from Google How Google search works from Google webmasters guide