The currency of search engines is keywords. Keywords are the way in which searchers tell Google, Bing, and other search engines what they’re looking for, and it’s one crucial way that search engines index and categorize content. But, with a billion sites out there, keyword categorization is hardly sufficient. Instead, the search engines have developed algorithms that become increasingly sophisticated, complex, and hopefully accurate in their categorization of content.
A huge number of factors drive search engine algorithms, ranging from the way a website is structured to how many links point to it and what the content actually says. But algorithms are proprietary and confidential, so a lot of time is spent in the SEO world gathering information, conducting experiments, and piecing together clues to inform our evolving understanding of what works and what doesn’t work when you’re trying to rank a site.
The net impact for site owners is simple: you have to create a website with your business goals and customers in mind. You also have to remember that search engines are a consideration in the way you do business digitally. An understanding of SEO best practices puts you in the best possible position to rank your site. Whether you do your SEO yourself or partner with an SEO firm or consultant, you’re ultimately responsible for the decisions that impact your business and your website.