How does SEO work?

SEO is a really, REALLY broad topic, and we are not going to cover it all, but we will give you a vague idea of how it works – the rules and principles. If you are crafting a traffic acquisition strategy for your website, SEO should definitely be a big part of it. (And by the way, if  you do – you should check out our article on traffic acquisition strategy). 

What is SEO?

To put it simply – it’s an art of creating and changing a website in a way that matches users’ and Google’s expectations and therefore lands your page on the top of the list in Google search – if it matches users’ query.

The name comes from Search Engine Optimization. SEO is about all the traffic that comes to your website via Google search. Therefore SEO is not a direct traffic (for example when someone clicks a link in your email or types the address directly in the browser bar), and it’s not a paid traffic – when you pay Google to put your link on top of the list.


How does SEO work?

In SEO there are three groups of interests: users, Google and you, the website owner.

How does SEO work - users, websites and Google

It all sounds pretty simple, right? But wait…

How does Google know what to show to users?

Google uses pieces of code to collect information from your website. Google bots scan your website periodically and gather pieces of information: about the content, single page structure as well as the whole domain, words used, age of domain, inbound links (as it suggests that users share the website as a valuable information source) etc. 

You can imagine it as getting points for each thing that makes your website objectively better than the competition.

Obviously, the highest score goes to old, big, informative websites with a lot of content and links, and with a clear structure – with headers and titles. That’s why Wikipedia often scores so high in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). 

This is also the reason why commercial websites, like yours, decide to have blog – to have more content and therefore to score higher in Google. 

What can Google bots see?

As we mentioned, Google bots are pieces of code designed to recognize and categorize other pieces of code – like your website. They can see the structure of text and website, they are better and better at recognizing the sense behind the words. They know how old your domain is and which links redirect to it. 

It’s worth mentioning that they can see “link juice”. Link juice is a value passed from one page to another via link. This means that links from spammy websites lower your domain authority and push you down in SERP – but links from legit domains help you get scored better by Google bots. 

Should I optimize my website for bots or for humans?

The best answer here is: you should optimize your website for users, but keep the bots in mind. Google introduces bigger changes to its algorithms occasionally, and small changes – almost every day. Make sure that you help machines understand and categorize your website correctly, but remember that it’s a human who is your ultimate audience. 


If you liked this article, check out the one in which we give tips on how to write content for your website in a way that is bot-friendly.