How does search engine optimisation work?

How does search engine optimisation work

At Grow Green, we often get asked about the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It’s a topic that can seem overwhelming, but it’s essential for businesses looking to increase their online visibility and drive traffic to their website. It’s one thing to know what SEO is, but understanding how it works is another altogether.

All search engines are incredibly smart. Taking into account thousands of factors to provide you with the most relevant content based on your search query. Understanding how this happens is half the battle to driving growth. In this post, we break down the basics of how SEO works, how search engines operate and why SEO is important to you in 2023.

P.S. we’re experts in SEO, if you have any questions just get in touch

Table of Contents

What are search engines?

Before you can start to produce compelling content that out ranks your competitors, you need to understand what search engines actually are. Search engines are programs designed to find and index the vast amount of content on the internet.

They take the seemingly endless pieces of information, and display them so that you can find answers, products, and services by entering keywords or phrases.

What you see is “the most relevant content” based on your search. This doesn’t just include articles or web pages. Search engines also show images, videos, other questions, and more.

What do search engines take into account

To make sure the results match what you’re looking for, search engines take into account a number of different factors. Not just the actual words used.

Of course, the keywords and phrases are extremely important. But, so is:

  • The quality and relevance of the content to the search query
  • The quality and credibility of the website
  • The user’s location and search history
  • The popularity and authority of the website.
  • The search intent

How do search engines work?

Ok, so we understand that they want to provide the best, most relevant answer to our question. But how do they actually work?

Search engines (like Google and Bing) use algorithms to decide which websites to show in their results. These algorithms are designed to provide the most relevant and helpful information to users based on what they’ve asked.

To do this, search engines crawl the web, indexing and analysing billions of web pages. They then assess these, based on over 200 different factors. This information is used to rank pages in order of their relevance to that user’s query.

While the exact algorithms are kept secret, there are several key factors that are known to influence the rankings. Like E-E-A-T.

What’s E-E-A-T?

The tried and tested acronym, created by Google to help developers understand how a page ranks. (This used to be E-A-T, but Google recently added a second E – Experience). We’ve broken it down for you below:


The most recent addition, google says “does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced?”


Search engines want to provide information produced by experts. Not just content reeled off by anyone. By ensuring expertise, users will get first hand advice to their queries.


Taking into account the creator of the content, the website it’s hosted on and the piece itself. Authority is a must have if you want to rank well.


According to Google, trust is the most important piece of the puzzle “because untrustworthy pages have low E-E-A-T no matter how Experienced, Expert, or Authoritative they may seem.” (So focusing on PR, backlinks and brand building is a no brainer.)

What it means to you

Basically, search engines want to provide the most relevant and high-quality content to their users. This means that creators should focus on pieces that are useful and informative to their audience, while also demonstrating experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness through optimisation. It’s that simple.

(Take a breath)

How Does Search Engine Optimisation Work?

So, I bet you’re wondering how SEO comes into this? Well, it takes into account everything we’ve mentioned above (and more) to optimise websites so they can rank well. This drives traffic, improving brand awareness, and fueling growth.

The key elements of SEO include:

Keyword Research

The first step in SEO is to research the keywords and phrases your target audience is using to search for businesses like yours. By identifying these keywords, you can optimise your website’s content to make it more relevant to these searches.

On-Page Optimisation

On-page optimisation involves improving your site to make it more attractive to the search engines.

(Don’t forget to E-E-A-T, the algorithms are hungry for great content!)

Link Building

To create authority and trust, you need to show search engines that you’re reputable. There’s no better way to do that than by building links to your site from other high-quality websites in your industry.

Find out more about getting started with SEO in our SEO where to start article.

The Bottom Line

SEO is a complex process that delves into user psychology, search engine operations and buyer intent to out rank other sites. Unfortunately, only one website can rank first, so everyone is fighting to reach the top. In this game, consistency is key.

SEO has a compounding effect that will outlast any paid advertising campaigns. While it can seem like significant investment, the ROI is often high, making it a must have in 2023.

At Grow Green, we specialise in sustainable SEO services that deliver long-term results. Contact us today to learn more.

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