When you pitch a new business prospect, you get to know a little about the company first. What business are they in? Who are their customers? Who are their competitors? How big is the company? And a million other things. You cater your pitch to appeal specifically to the prospect. The more you know in advance, the higher your odds of winning the account.
Well, it’s the same thing with search engine optimization (SEO). If you want to understand SEO, you first need to gain an understanding of how search engines work. And with a tight grip on 60+% of the search market, that means Google! Here’s a simplistic look at how Google works, from the 50,000 foot level.
Google has bots or spiders ─ programs it calls “Googlebots” ─ that “crawl” billions of web pages everyday. The Googlebots analyze the pages to determine what each page is about (keywords to match to your query) and the relevance of each page (incoming links from other pages that help determine the importance of the page). All this information is stored to create Google’s “index.” The index is constantly being updated to add new pages as well as to record changes to existing pages in the index.
When you place a keyword into a Google search box, Google checks its index to determine which pages are most relevant to the keyword and presents (or “serves”) a snippet of those pages in order of Google’s proprietary and highly complex ranking algorithm.
Here’s an illustration from Google that shows the search query process, which by the way, is usually executed in less than a half a second:
Think of SEO as a process of employing various techniques to:
- 1) ensure that the pages of a website are easily and thoroughly crawled and indexed by Google
2) maximize the relevancy of the web pages through quality links and other Google-defined factors
3) closely match the content on web pages with targeted keywords
For a little more explanation of crawling, indexing and serving, check out what Google has to say on the subject. Soon you’ll be ready to make your pitch to Google.