Who better to explain how search engines work than the people who built the most popular one?
Stick with Matt for the next 3:14 and he will explain what happens behind the scenes when you search for something online.
Simply then: search engines find all the websites relating to that search and order them according to usefulness to the searcher.
As Matt says you can’t pay to get a better search result (despite the claims of some SEO experts!)
But what you can do is recognise the key factors in getting in that list.
Let’s break that down for each factor
The exact way search engines determine this vary. But all use a similar philosophy of being picked first for the sports team!
You need a fast & reliable website that gives a great user experience and is popular.
Someone goes to a search engine and starts a search for a thing. The first thing the search engine does is recalls the list of all the websites they know about that has that thing mentioned.
You need to be clear on what your website can offer and we do that by telling the search engines the search terms we want to be found for.
Then the search engines needs to narrow down the list.
The person searching wants a result that is relevant now, at the time they are searching. Pretty useless to show them cinema screen times from 1998, or information from a website that hasn’t been updated for over 20 years.
You need to have a regularly updated website, blogs are perfect for this!
The geographical location is also important. If I search for hairdressers I probably want someone local to me and not on the other side of the world.
You need to be clear on where you are located and Google My Business is the best tool for that.
The list also takes account of who the user is searching for the result based on what the search engine knows about that user and the results they normally want.
This is more the Google (or other search engines) secret sauce and mostly outside of your control.