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How SEO Works in November 2022

Last updated on July 6, 2022

SEO is a highly-dynamic digital marketing discipline. If you are curious about how SEO works, check out our SEO guide below. We dive deep into what SEO is, why SEO matters, and how SEO works. We will continue to update this guide as the landscape of SEO changes due to algorithm updates over time.

What is SEO?

Definition of SEO

SEO = Search Engine Optimization.

Definition: SEO is the effort to make a website rank in highly searched unpaid/organic search results on search engines such as Google and Bing.

Difference between Paid and Organic Search

Paid listings:
- Generally the first 1-4 listings in search results.

- Roughly 25% of searchers click Paid Ads on Google.
- Not a part of SEO efforts.

Organic listings:
- Generally 10 organic listings per page of search results, always following ads.

- Roughly 75% of searchers scroll past ads to click organic listings on Google.

Why does SEO matter?

The numbers

- SEO generally comprises 30%-70% of a website’s traffic makeup on average (Search Engine Journal).

- 78% of location-based mobile searches now result in an offline purchase (Junto).

- There are billions of searches per month on search engines such as Google and Bing, with new searches and search trends happening every year (Google Trends).

- 87% of smartphone users use a search engine every day (Junto).

Meet your customers where they are

- Google currently holds 92.17% of global search engine market share, with Bing taking 2.78% global market share.
- This means that your customers are already searching on Google (or in some cases Bing)!
- You can meet your customers where they already are through SEO.

How does SEO work?

Step 1: Crawl

Let’s use Google as our example.
Search engines such as Google have automated bots that try to find every page on the Internet. In the case of Google, this bot is called Googlebot. Bots such as Googlebot are sometimes also known as spiders. They crawl through a website and collect as much information as possible about that website.

In our example, imagine that Googlebot enters in on the home page of a website, and follows every link on the page. Googlebot then crawls those pages as well, effectively creating a "spider web" of understanding of how a website fits together! This is where the term spider comes from.


Step 2: Storing crawl in Index

After Google crawls a website, it stores the information that it found in Google’s massive library of information, also known as the Google Index. The Google Index is a collection of servers that contain crawled information such as text, images, videos, and links of websites across the Internet.

Step 3: Algorithm

To figure out how a website should rank organically in search results, Google uses its algorithm to figure out what to do with all of that data in its index. Google’s algorithm is incredibly complex.

What’s important to know is that Google does everything it can to determine the most relevant results for its users. In its simplest form, Google’s algorithm is a complex equation by which it determines if a page is relevant enough to rank for a given search. Additionally, it is estimated that Google updates its algorithm over 3,000 times per year!

To see a comprehensive list of ranking factors, check out the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors published by Search Engine Land.

Quick review:

- Search engine bots attempt to crawl every page on your site, often crawling your entire site multiple times per day.

- Search engines store that information in their index.

- Search engines use their complex algorithms to determine how to rank your website in search results for various queries.

A brief history: SEO in the year 2000

In the early days, search engines such as Google were simple. If you wanted to rank for a keyword, you could simply stuff your website with that keyword. Google would crawl your website and see that keyword multiple times, thinking your website was a reputable source for the given topic. As such, you would rank well in search results!

As you can imagine however, people took advantage of this simplicity and built spammy websites to exploit this system! Check out the view below for an example.

SEO in the year 2022

Over time, Google caught on to these spammy tactics and realized that it needed to improve its algorithm to ensure it showed its searchers the most relevant search results.

Today there are thousands of factors that go into Google’s algorithm. These factors include:

- Mobile friendliness of a page
- How long a page takes to load - How many links on your website are pointing to the page you are trying to rank (also known as "internal links").
- How many links outside your website are pointing to the page you are trying to rank.
- The grammatical structure of the text on your page: Typos, numbers of syllables, etc.
- Whether your page has rich media such as imagery/videos.
- Whether your page is ADA compliant.
- Etc.

Key Takeaways

  1. SEO is more important than ever before.
  2. Pursuing SEO ensures you’re meeting customers where they already are.
  3. Google is the primary search engine of choice for Internet users around the world.
  4. The process of Google ranking a website can be broken down into three steps:
    • Crawling
    • Indexing
    • Algorithmically ranking search results
  5. Google’s algorithm is complex and ever-changing. It’s critical to stay up-to-date with it to ensure SEO best-practices are being followed.

SEO is not a one-time thing.


SEO should be a continued investment of time, energy, and research. 

There are approximately 10 traditional spots on page 1 of search results. Your competitors are always vying for one of those spots, and will not stop working to rank well and capture customer traffic. You should do the same!

As you can see, SEO is a lot of work. If you need help with your SEO work, we’d love to help. Fill out the form below to start the conversation and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

You’re still here! Still interested in learning more? Check out a list of recent confirmed and/or unconfirmed Google algorithm updates below, illustrating how SEO is always changing.

Recent Algorithm Updates