How the search engine works

How the search engine works

One question that is not asked much is how the search engine works when it comes to results. When you are searching online for you, or your business, you have to understand Google tracks everything!

Google does this to not be creepy, maybe a little, but Google wants to give you the best results. It’s results are based on what Google thinks you are looking for. So obviously that is all about you on the search engine results page (SERP).

Your search and online web history, proximity to your search objectives, your personal IP address, the device you are searching on, and how often you click on a result, are all recorded. Are you thoroughly creeped out yet?

Search Engine Optimization Tools

Many times SEO is considered “voodoo”, but it’s not. Search Engine Optimization is a real profession that takes hours or weeks to do well. Like going to a doctor until a diagnosis is made, no one call tell you where you need to start.

And only if you have the right tools to work with. How the search engine worksAs well as a viable brand or product that has good PR or marketing campaigns working to bring traffic to the website.

Branding, Web Development, Marketing, and SEO all work together to make a successful brand online. Sometimes in that order. One only without the others is not a good strategy and should be rethought.

But for this article, let’s focus on SEO.

Where do you start with SEO?

You start with a brand review.

Review the companies current message, designs, and content quality. If there are bad reviews, poor copy, and a awful or cheaply designed site, then SEO is a waste of money.

Don’t focus on SEO yet, focus on your branding first. That way SEO can partner with marketing to spread the word on the internet organically. Thus work properly and get you the results you are expecting.

Then do a technical audit of your current site if you are not ready to build a new one. If your current site is not correct, then a new page, or lander, will be necessary to perform the best campaign.

What is Organic SEO?

On-page, Off-page, Technical, and Local SEO are all Organic focused first.

Organic results appear below the Paid Search ads. Organic SEO is natural ranking based on your websites code quality, content, and about two hundred other ranking factors that a SEO expert is aware of. To get a scope of the situation you need a SEO technical Audit.

There are typically 10 positions to be listed on unless you land on a different SERP based on you using a city or other location. Then you will see more of what I mean by that below.

What is Paid SEO?

Google Advertising has been around for about 17 years. It’s how Google makes money. Therefore it is not considered SEO, but Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Cost Per Click (CPC) paid advertising. Google Ads (formerly AdWords) is often referred to as SEM.

“SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines.” –

This is where ads appear and based on other factors than organic, your ads position is determined by Ad Rank not Search Results Ranking factors. Your actual CPC is based on your ads “Ad Rank,” competition from other advertisers, and other factors your ad must meet.

You need to make sure your ads take visitors to a optimized landing page. That is where things blur for folks between Organic and Paid. Even though it’s a paid ad, the page still needs to follow Organic SEO guidelines. Remember it’s about your users.

You can read more about AdRank here:

But you Google you, and see something else

Yep, that’s probably correctly based on the factors above. It’s not a matter of Google getting it wrong, it’s a matter of what Google sees and based on the users search – that’s the results.

It’s problematic to constantly be Google-ing yourself. The problem is this creates a history of you looking for you. Especially the way only you would. It doesn’t give you a view of how others search for you. Therefore, you are not actually optimizing your business online based on good data, but rather what you think is correct based on what you see.

Proper on-page SEO needs quality content. As well as a quality designed website to seed in the search engine. If you have paid for SEO, make sure it’s a retainer. As users change habits on how they search and using Google tools and others.

If you have all of these factors incorrect, your results will be beyond strange, and into the territory of bizarre.

It’s possible to track and monitor search results and how users search for you. Then tailor and revise your sites content accordingly. It’s always best to listen to your SEO expert and trust the data they are interpreting to get you the best visibility.

For that you need a SEO expert. However, first let’s dive into the different result pages you’ll see.

Local Pack Results

Google takes what appears to have local intent. For example you search for: “best restaurants in Seattle” or “restaurants near me”. Three physical locations will appear at the top Google deems most relevant to the keyword.

SERP Local Pack
Protip: These features dominate the SERP, especially on mobile.

Claiming, or creating, a business listing to ensuring your businesses location appears in a local search on Google. This is a process that requires location data and citation management. Managing online ratings and reviews, local-centric social media engagement, and more contribute to your local search success.

Reviews – I know, I know, how do I get these?

Review stars and rating data are displayed for products, recipes, and other relevant items. Google is already seeing businesses try to manipulate this to get a higher Click Thru Rate (CTR) to increase results.

SERP Reviews Snippet
SERP Reviews Snippet

Results with review stars get higher CTR. But before you contact your SEO expert, understand that there is no guarantee to get these in your search results snippet. Even if you do everything properly.

In the next article I’ll share about local SEO steps to take to show your brands expertise.

  • Finding your niche
  • Low budget branding
  • Start writing great content
  • Share your content on social media
  • Local ranking factors that help your small business SEO
  • Google My Business
  • Add ratings and reviews
  • Links from related small businesses
  • Near me searches

For more on the different search engine result pages visit below where they show you in detail all the different SERP features and and how they appear.


I’ve been developing and designing websites on WordPress since 2008. I’ve created a theme I named Molecule, that has been used to creatively, and successfully to boost businesses to the level they need to get to. I love building brands and creating compelling content to rise them to the top.

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