Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are the most popular search engines. Each has algorithms designed to return the best possible results based on the words you entered into the search bar.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of increasing the number and quality of visitors to a website by improving rankings in these algorithmic search engine results.
Research shows that websites on the first page of Google receive almost 95% of clicks, and studies show that results that appear higher up the page receive an increased Click Through Rate (CTR), and more traffic. Meaning the higher on the page, the more people will click on your listing.
Research shows that websites on the first page of Google receive almost 95% of clicks, and studies show that results that appear higher up the page receive an increased Click-Through Rate (CTR), and more traffic.
These results are what are called organic search results are those that appear directly below the top pay-per-click ads in Google.
These results land you in the Map Pack and the Organic Results, as shown on the right. There are a good deal more organic results than we could reasonably display on this page.
Google (and Bing, which powers Yahoo!) score each website on a few factors, including the authority of the pages it has identified, and the relevancy of the page to the words the user typed into the search bar
Google uses over 200 signals in scoring their search results. SEO encompasses a variety of technical and creative activities to influence and improve some of those known signals. We try to not focus too much on individual ranking signals and look to satisfy Google by providing the best answers for its users.
SEO, therefore, involves making sure a website is accessible, technically sound, uses words that people type into the search engines, and provides excellent user experience, with useful and high quality, expert content that helps answers the user’s query.
Google has a very large team of search quality raters that evaluate the quality of search results, that gets fed into a machine learning algorithm. Google’s search quality rater guidelines provide plenty of detail and examples of what Google class as high or low-quality content and websites, and their emphasis on wanting to reward sites that clearly show their expertise, authority, and trust (EAT).
Google uses a hyperlink based algorithm (known as ‘PageRank’) to calculate the popularity and authority of a page, and while Google is far more sophisticated today, this is still a fundamental signal in ranking. SEO can, therefore, also include activity to help improve the number and quality of ‘inbound links’ to a website, from other websites. This activity has historically been known as ‘link building’, but is just marketing a brand with an emphasis online, through content or digital PR, for example.
Relevant and reputable websites linking to a website is a strong signal to Google that it might be of interest to its users, and can be trusted to appear in the search results for relevant queries.
Advertising with Google won't have any effect on your site's presence in their search results. Google never accepts money to include or rank sites in our search results, and it costs nothing to appear in their organic search results.
Free resources such as Google Search Console, the official Google Webmaster Central blog, and their discussion forum can provide you with a great deal of information about how to optimize your site for organic search.