In an ever-changing digital world, search engines play a crucial role in helping users quickly access the information they need. Google , Bing , Yahoo and other major players have the mission to browse all the web pages found on the Internet, with the objective of providing relevant and high quality results in response to user queries .
But do you know how these search engines actually work?
This chapter aims to lift the veil on how search engines really work , in addition to demystifying some false beliefs about this complex process. By understanding more of the why and how of indexing and ranking, you will be better prepared to optimize your website.
Looking for SEO best practices style ="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;"> ? So let's dive together in this section to find out how to properly master the workings of search engines and thus strengthen your position in this vast digital ocean.
In addition to a more effective online presence, you will gain visibility more quickly while attracting high-quality organic traffic !
How search engines work: 3 key phases
Search engines, such as Google , Bing and Yahoo for example, have the mission of indexing, at all times, the billions of web pages in order to provide the most relevant results in response to user queries. To achieve this, three essential phases are put forward: exploration , indexing and classification .
During this first stage of the process, search engines deploy robots ( better known as " spiders " or "crawlers") that crawl the web with the aim of discovering new content or updating themselves based on changes to existing content. These robots thus follow the links they encounter, walking from one page to another, from one site to another, collecting and recording all the information as they go along. This way of working highlights the existing connections between the various elements present on the web, like a meticulously woven spider's web.
It is for this reason, among others, that the internal linking (relationship between the different pages of the same website ) represents a fundamental aspect of SEO .
Once the crawlers collect the information, it is indexed. This phase of the operation of search engines is summed up by the storage and organization of the information collected, with the aim of keeping it in a huge database.
In summary, thanks to this step, when a user makes a request on the Internet, the search engine consults the index thus created in order to see to always offer the most relevant web pages possible.
When a query is submitted, the search engine immediately classifies the pages in its index in order to display those that are most faithful to what is requested by the user. This ranking process is determined by search engine algorithms , based on hundreds of different factors.
Thanks to these three steps, you now already know a little more about how crawlers roam the web with the mission of collecting as much information as possible and thus storing it in a huge database. Then how, via this indexing, search engines then embark on the crucial phase of ranking, where web pages are then evaluated and sorted according to their relevance and the value they have in the face of the search query. Internet user.
The importance of search engine algorithms
Search engine algorithms play a crucial role in the web page ranking process. Indeed, they are the ones who determine which sites will appear first in the search results according to their relevance and quality.
In order to work well, these algorithms take into account a range of different elements. Among the main ranking factors identified by Google , here are the most important:
- Content quality : Is the text and content of the website informative, unique and relevant to the search query?
- Site performance style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;">: Is it fast to load, secure (HTTPS), mobile-friendly ?
- Inbound links ( backlinks ): What is the quantity and quality of external links pointing to the site?
- User experience : Is the website easy to navigate? Is it safe for visitors? Is the mobile experience interesting for the user?
- Social Signals : Does the site have an active social media presence?
- Use of keywords : Are the chosen keywords used appropriately in the content, titles, URLs and meta descriptions?
- Location : Are the results relevant to the geographic location of the searcher?
- Semantic Search : Is the context and intent behind the search query well understood?
- Algorithm Updates : Does the website reflect the most recent Google algorithm updates?
- Data structure : Is the data structured in a way that helps search engines understand the content?
In summary, to determine which web pages deserve to appear at the top of search results, the powerful algorithms of search engines take into account a multitude of factors.
By understanding the basics of these operating mechanisms, you will have a good head start in effectively optimizing your website in terms of SEO . By aligning your content, your structure and your keyword strategies with the criteria of the algorithms, you will thus manage to increase your online visibility, attract a qualified audience and improve your positioning on the SERP.
Keyword research: a pillar of SEO
Keyword research is a fundamental aspect of natural referencing (SEO). Choosing the right words plays an essential role in effectively interconnecting your content style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;"> with your target audience. In addition to a thorough understanding of the target audience, effective keyword research also requires a certain flexibility in its approach in order to adapt well to changes in the market, in addition to the judicious use of the appropriate tools.
In the context of SEO , the keyword refers to the term entered by Internet users in a search engine when they wish to use the Internet to obtain information, products, services or simply the answer to a question.
Keywords are thus the backbone of an effective SEO strategy as they help connect your content with your target audience. In other words, a good selection of keywords will match what you offer with what people are really looking for.
Debunking false beliefs about keywords
Since keyword research is a crucial step in SEO, it's worth taking the time to demystify some common beliefs about their use. By avoiding these mistakes, you naturally move towards better strategies style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;"> SEO.
- First of all, although one might think that keyword research is simply choosing the most popular words in order to incorporate them into the content, the reality is that it is necessary to push the strategy much further. in order to obtain the best results. In fact, the most important thing is rather to take into account the relevance of each of these key queries, in relation to your activity and your objectives. Good keyword research therefore requires a thorough understanding of your target audience, their needs, and their search behavior.
- Along the same lines, another popular belief is to only focus on high search volume keywords . While popular queries are obviously important, it's also worth considering the use of long-tail keywords. Indeed, the advantage of these keywords, which are more specific and targeted, is that they can generate more qualified and less competitive traffic.
- It is common to believe that keyword research is a single, static process. In reality, it is rather an evolutionary process , in constant change. Search trends advance, new keywords emerge, and competition varies. It is therefore important to regularly monitor the performance of your keywords and adjust them according to market changes.
- Another typical mistake frequently encountered is thinking that one search tool is enough. In reality, comprehensive keyword research is about more than just using a single tool. On the contrary, it is rather recommended to rely on the principle that the various keyword research tools , such as Google Keyword Planner , SEMrush , and Google Search Console , will always be more powerful when used together. Joining forces indeed allows you to obtain more complete data on the relevant keywords, the competition, as well as several details concerning the performance of your site.
9 Simple Steps to Good Keyword Research
In order to help you establish a keyword strategy that will be the most effective possible, depending on your situation, here is a summary of nine steps to follow!
Understanding your target audience: a priority step
The very first step in keyword research is understanding your target audience . Indeed, it is thanks to this first reflection that you will then be able to obtain an effective classification, adapted to your situation.
- Who are the people representing your target audience?
- What are their needs ?
- What terms are they likely to use when searching for products or services similar to what you offer?
By understanding their habits and their real needs, you will be able to generate a list of relevant initial keywords able to optimize your results.
Identify relevant keywords
Once the initial list is established, the next step is to refine it by identifying the most relevant keywords . To do this, using keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner , SEMrush , Ahrefs or Ubersuggest represents a good strategy. These tools can help you discover new keywords, gain insight into search volume and competition for each query, and discover variations of keywords or related phrases.
For example, in our internal keyword research process, we typically use SEMrush , in combination with the Google Ads Keyword Planner style="font-weight: 400;" data-mce-style="font-weight: 400;"> and Google Search Console for an integrated approach.
SEMrush is indeed a good example of a versatile tool for identifying new keywords, tracking their rankings, examining our competitors' strategy and analyzing website traffic.
The Google Ads Keyword Planner, on the other hand, helps us understand the popularity and competitiveness of a keyword, providing us with valuable information on search volume, click forecasts, as well as competition for a specific keyword. It also helps us discover new keywords by giving us suggestions based on our desired search terms.
As for Google Search Console , it allows us to obtain valuable information on the performance of our site in Google search results. It provides information on what search queries lead users to our site, which pages rank best, and how our site ranks for specific keywords.
Used together, these three tools provide comprehensive data allowing us to effectively optimize our keyword strategy, while maximizing visibility in search results. In this way, we are then able to create a strategy with relevant keywords , meeting both the expectations of our users and the requirements of search engines.
Analyze the competition
There's certainly nothing wrong with constructively analyzing the strategies your competitors seem to be using in business . Indeed, the objective is simply to take advantage of all the information at your disposal in order to effectively meet the needs of your target audience.
In this sense, analyzing the competition's keywords can certainly inspire you by giving you some ideas that you can then use for your own content strategy. What keywords do they use in their titles, their meta descriptions, as well as throughout the texts? Which of these seem to generate the most traffic?
This is a great opportunity to identify keyword opportunities that you may have missed, and integrate them into your overall strategy.
Choose the keywords
After identifying all the potential keywords, the next step is to choose the best keywords . This selection should be based on their relevance, their search volume, as well as their competition.
Keywords with high search volume and low competition are ideal, but they can be difficult to find. Therefore, it is important to balance these factors based on your goals and your ability to produce high-quality content that can rank for each of these key queries.
Once you have chosen the right keywords, it then becomes important to organize them in a way that you can use them effectively in your SEO strategy. To do this, it is then possible to group them either according to their relevance or their search intention (example: informative search, navigational search or transactional search keywords).
Track keyword performance
For an effective SEO strategy , it is also essential to track the performance of your keywords in order to understand which ones generate the most traffic to your website and lead to conversions.
For this task, keyword tracking tools can be of great help to you. These make it possible to monitor several performance factors at the same time:
- ranking of keywords;
- traffic volume;
- conversion rate of each keyword.
Knowing this information makes it easier for you to effectively adjust your keyword strategy based on performance and changing web search trends .
Understanding the Long Tail
When we talk about “long tail”, we are referring to certain keywords that are more specific , longer and generally less competitive than classic keywords.
These long-tail keywords are often very relevant since they can generate targeted, quality traffic. For example, instead of using the generic keyword “shoes,” you can target a long-tail query like “women's trail running shoes.”
Evaluate competitiveness in the short, medium and long term
Evaluating the competitiveness of your chosen keywords, whether based on popularity or competition, is another important step in keyword research .
Generally speaking, one could say that more popular keywords may be harder to rank for quickly. While less competitive keywords are generally easier to index in the short term, but tend to have lower search volume. You must therefore aim for a good balance, and adjust everything according to the time and your needs.
Define a keyword strategy
So here we are at the very last step, defining your keyword strategy ! Of course, a good approach must take into account all of the previously mentioned steps: target audience, competition, use of IT tools, selection of relevant keywords, long tail and competitiveness.
To give you a more concrete example, your strategy could include a certain number of short-term keywords for rapid traffic gain, medium-term keywords for sustainable traffic, as well as some long- term ones to to have a more sustainable strategy allowing you to strengthen your positioning in search results.
It is in fact by correctly defining your keyword strategy, and constantly adjusting it, that you can maximize the impact of your SEO strategy on the organic traffic of your website .
Search engines, with their elaborate crawling, indexing and ranking processes, are the beating heart of the digital universe. They tirelessly scour the vast ocean of the web to provide the most relevant answers to user queries. At the heart of this quest for relevance is keyword research, which serves as a bridge between user intent and the content offered by websites .
By judiciously optimizing the choice and use of keywords, content creators can establish a fruitful dialogue with these powerful algorithms and, in turn, their target audience. In a world where online visibility is essential, understanding and mastering how search engines and keyword research work is the key to standing out in the digital space.