SEO Optimization: How Do Search Engines Really Work?

Are you one of those who believe that SEO optimization is a mine-infested battle field because of the many Google Penguin updates?

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, have you lost confidence in anything with the appearance of search engine optimization?

Indeed, one subject that many webmasters are having problems with these days is search engine optimization (SEO). The reason is not far-fetched. Google has, in the recent past, being very hard on SEO practices that borders on black-hat or grey-hat tactics. This has resulted in many ecommerce sites losing their search rankings and subsequently, traffic and profits.

But should this really make you to turn away from search engine optimization? Does this justify the many ugly labels that have been placed on anything that has to do with optimizing your websites for the search engines?

Matter of fact is, search engine optimization is something that every webmaster, content marketing professional, social media strategist, blogger or whatever other name we will want to be known by, engages in every day – consciously or unconsciously. Whenever we create any form of content for the web we are actually optimizing for the search engines even if we do not know it!

In this post I want to help you understand how the search engines work because when you do you’ll not only better appreciate the need for search engine optimization but, you will also know how to go about it!

There are three fundamental processes in delivering search results to you:

  1. Crawling: Does Google know about your website and can they find it?

  2. Indexing: Can Google index your site?

  3. Serving: Does the website have good and useful content and is it relevant to a user’s search?

Search Engine Optimization Is Not Beyond You!

SEO optimization may appear to many as something that only a special group of high tech SEO specialists have privy to.  But that is really not the truth. If only you understand how the search engines work you will come to realize that getting into the good books of Google (and any of the other search engine, for that matter) is really not a problem. The good news is that once you get this right you will not have any fears about whatever future updates that Google is planning to bring up!

Yes, search engine optimization may seem to be a complex subject but that is only if you want to step into the realm of arm-twisting the search engines to give you what you know is not due to you. However, with a simple idea of what is going on in the mind of the search engines and a commitment to some simple work of helping your web pages to align with that ideal situation, ranking on the search engines and driving targeted traffic from the search engines can really be a thing of joy!

How the Search Engines Work

The simplest way to understand how search engines work is to look at their components. Basically, a search engine is made up of 3 pieces of software. These are:

1. The Spider Software

2. The Index Software


3. The Query Software.

Now, let’s look briefly at these 3 components.

1. The Spider Software

This is the aspect of the search engine that many SEOs refer to most of the times. To many, the search engine spiders “crawls” the web searching for new web pages to collect and index. But the actual fact is that the search engine spiders do not “crawl” nor “visit” any page. What they do instead is, like your typical web browser, they request pages from websites and when they receive this information they send them to the index software for analysis!

I’m sure the above statement may be confusing to many since they have been made to believe that the spiders “crawl” round the web looking for information to gather! But you must understand that the spiders’ “crawling” the web is only figurative. For example, when your website has new content, the search engine spider does not come “crawling” to your website to collect the new information. Instead, depending on the frequency of visits you have set for your website, the search engine spider simply “sends” a request to your site and if there is any new content, that content is added to the search engine indices.

I must point out here that this is where pinging the search engines whenever you add new content to your site is very important. Doing so will notify the search engines immediately that there is some new content on your site for collection. This way, your website content can get into the search indices in a matter of minutes after it is added to your website or blog. If you’re using the wordpress blogging platform for your sites you can actually do this automatically through the use of plugins.

Another thing you must understand about the search engine spiders is that they do not collect images or formatting. All that they care about is the text and links and of course the urls associated with the content. Logos and images should be identified by text in the “alt tag” else they would be ignored by the spiders. Also, flash should be discouraged altogether.

2. The Index Software

This can be described as the brain of the search engine. What this software does is take all the text, links and urls that the spider software has gathered, figure out what they are all about, classify them and then arrange them accordingly.

The index software uses a complex mathematical formula called an algorithm to index the words, pairs of words, phrases, etc and then put a score on them so that when someone uses the search engine while looking for some information, it can quickly determine which of the content and url is relevant to that search!

Now, if you understand this you will come to appreciate why keywords/phrases are still an important component of your content creation because they are what help the search engines to classify and index your content correctly.

For example, if I use Google to search for “content writing services” it will only return the webpages that contain that phrase and sometimes, other related terms. But it will never return pages that are focused on “bicycle repairs!”

Take a look at this graphic for an example:

Btw. Can you notice that yours truly stand atop of that result? ? yes, we know what we are talking about here!

The Query Software

This is actually what the average person regards as the search engine. It is what you see when you want to use a search engine to look for information.

What this software does is this: whenever you make a search, it will take your query and look through the indexed information that the spider software has collected and the index software has carefully arranged and then pull out the webpage with the content that best suits your query.

It is like asking your secretary to get information about a particular subject for you. Of course, what the secretary would simply do is take your request and get that information from a file which contains that information. That is the same thing that the search engines do anytime you request information from them!

Now, here’s something you must understand; the search engines do not “search the web” to get you the results as it is erroneously believed. What they do is simply go through the records that the index software has created and then retrieve the best match for your query. This is important because for your web pages to be delivered to people who are searching, they must first be indexed by the search engine. So getting your content (text, links and urls) indexed in the first place is something you must work at.

SEO Keywords Optimization Takeaway

The search engines have billions and billions of information well analyzed and indexed. But they will only make it available when someone queries the search engine for information. SEO keyword optimization is therefore a way that you ensure that your website or blog content have the right keywords or phrases that people are using to query the search engines.

It is true that Google has, in recent times, come out tough on many SEO practices but that does not mean optimizing your content for the search engines is a dead game. It is actually the best thing you can do for your web content. Knowing how to get your web pages and content into the index of the search engines is what will help you drive targeted organic traffic and convert valuable leads.

If you lack in-house facilities to do this, it is important that you get the services of professionals to help you out. It will interest you to know that this is what we do here at Monkey Fist Digital.  We help SMBs, ecommerce startups and enterprise bloggers in creating web content that is expertly optimized for the search engines and the human visitors to your site.

Click here to request free information today.

Don’t let any one deceive you. SEO optimization is still very important today. Google may be hard on SEO practices that are dubious but that does not mean that Google is not rewarding other websites with quality optimized content with high rankings. Get our content writing services today and see your websites make the top of the SERPs.

Feel free and share your thoughts on this subject of SEO optimization with us in the comments below.