First step in SEO - Knowing how search engines work

For whatever reason you decided to start blogging, one thing is certain: YOU DIDN'T PLAN TO WASTE YOUR TIME WRITING BLOGS THAT NOBODY READS.

For us bloggers, traffic is everything. And what better way is there to get traffic than through search engines?

The latest data shows that Google processes over 99,000 searches every single second (Internet Live Stats, 2022).

Now imagine you have a website that sells beaded handbags. And for every 50,000 people that search Google for beaded handbags per month, your website shows up on the front results page. Again, if your page ranks high on the front page, there is a high probability that more than half of that number will go through your site, which means more sales, more money and more long-term traffic for you.

Now, the question is: How can you make it possible that when someone searches for specific keywords on Google, your website shows up on the first page?

SEO, right?

But not so fast.

To get your website on the first page of search engines, you must first understand how search engines think. You need to know the methodology with which search engines determine which website to rank first, second, third…and so on. After that, you can now make necessary changes to your website to optimize it for search engines.

A mind map showing different aspects of SEO


When you create a new website or make changes to an existing one, search engines send software (called bots or spiders) to your website. For example, Google sends GoogleBot, Bing sends Bingbot, Yahoo sends Slurp bot, and so on.

The main reason search engines send these spiders is to gather information from every website and page. The information collected are mainly site taglines, headings, key words, content, links, images, etc. (Spiders ignore the styling of your website and CSS). This process of gathering information is called CRAWLING.

After crawling, search engines store the data collected from every website in their database, known as INDEX OF THE WEB.

So, when you type a search item like beaded handbags on Google, Googlebot searches the Index of the web for websites/pages that are related to the search item.

Usually, there are thousands of pages related to the search term. So, what Google does is to ask questions from all the related pages to determine how to rank them.

According to Google, there are more than 200 questions, three of which are:

  • How many times is the search term used in the page?
  • Are the keywords used in the title, headings, URL, etc.?
  • How many other pages on the web link to this page?

After this, Google gives a score to each of these related pages depending on how well they answer the questions. The result is what is displayed on your browser for your search query. 

The result is displayed in descending order (that is, the highest score appears first, followed by the second highest and so on).

Interestingly, all this happens in approximately 2 seconds.

So, how do you get your website to rank high on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP)?


As simple as it appears, answering the questions well is quite difficult to achieve. This is because several websites/pages are also competing for the same top spot. How then do you make your voice heard? How do you compete successfully with other websites? 

But first, let’s focus on getting your website crawled properly.


To make sure that no page is missed out when your site is being crawled by spiders, here are a few tips to follow:

#1. Link all the pages and contents properly

Assume you have 4 pages on your website, say:

PAGE A = Home page

PAGE B = Contact page

PAGE C = About page

PAGE D = Services page

When a spider visits your site, it goes directly to PAGE A since it is your home page. It will crawl this page and find a link to PAGE B. It will go to PAGE B and find a link to PAGE C. It will go to PAGE C and find a link to PAGE D… and so on.

Now, if a page does not link to the next page, say PAGE C does not link to PAGE D, the only way spiders will find PAGE D is to search for it or enter a URL for it. Unfortunately, spiders can’t do both. As a result, PAGE D is not found by spiders and is not stored in search engines’ database. What this means is that PAGE D will NEVER be displayed on SERP.

By implication, the best practice is to always link pages on your website. From A to B, from B to C, from C to D, and from D back to A.

Learn more about content optimization.

#2. Don't put texts inside images with the aim of making it count for SEO

If you put texts in images and hope that somehow it will count for SEO, then you may have worked towards nothing. Spiders cannot properly read text (content) in images, so if you use important texts like keywords in images, chances are they won’t be crawled and will never appear in search results. Maybe spiders are more advanced now, I'm not sure, but it's a chance you don't want to take. Instead, put that text in text format on your site. For instance, if I use the image below instead of this text, spiders won't be able to read this particular tip I have just shared.

Image that contains text that spiders won't crawl

But then, there is a way to tell spiders what an image is about. If you use a picture of a beaded handbag on your website, you can tell the spider: hey! This picture is a beaded handbag. We shall talk about this in details later.

#3. Ask Google (or any other search engine) to crawl your website

Most of the time, Google automatically crawls your website. However, it is advisable to submit your website for crawling so that the whole process will be done faster.

Check here to learn more about submitting your website for different search engines.

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