Before we can talk about everything that makes up SEO, we’ve got to start with the basics – how the internet and search engines work.
Boiled down to the simplest concept, the internet is really just a huge collection of pages that are connected by links. I like to use cities as a metaphor – a website is like a house, where each room in the house is a different page on the site, with hallways and stairs connecting the different rooms, but therooms add up to a cohesive whole. You have different houses on the street, but everything in the neighborhood is related. If you add even more houses, you end up with a city .
Think of links like roads – they connect the different buildings and neighborhoods together. A big popular website is like a large office building, with lots of roads leading to it. It’s easy to see, and there are plenty of different ways to get there.
If you’re building a new site, it’s like you’re adding a new building to the city. Where would you rather have that building? If you’re right on the intersection of the freeway and several cross streets, it’ll be a popular location that’s easy to find. But if you build it way outside of town in the middle of a huge field, no one will know it’s there.
Back in the beginning of the World Wide Web, when there weren’t that many sites, you could only reach a website by typing in the address of the page or by clicking a link on another site.
In the early 90s, the web had grown too large to sustain such a simple navigation and discovery process. The first search engines were born – now users could type keywords into the search engine and receive a list of websites related to the search phrase. Excite , AltaVista, and Yahoo! quickly changed the way that people were using the internet.
In the late 90s, Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on their own search engine, and they were the first to use links as a signal of authority and trust. WhenGoogle was finally released, it quickly became the favored search engine because the quality of the search results far surpassed the other options.
The search engines created advanced algorithms that analyze hundreds of factors for each website – both on and off the website. The algorithms are constantly updated and adjusted to ensure that search results are the best they can be.