Understanding a Search Engine
How a search engine works - Step 1: Indexing
Google will send a bot or crawler to your website. A bot is a piece of software behaving as a browser. It tries to visit every corner of your website. Each time the bot finds a page, this page is indexed and the references are stored in the search engine database. The bot can only find all the pages following links. So it's important to have clean linking of your pages so the bot can easily find them and pay them a visit.
How a search engine works - Step 2: Ranking
The ranking figure your page gets will influence the place it gets in search results. Google (and other search engines) use quite complex algorithms for this. Google will try to really get the most relevant pages on top of the search result list. The challenge for Google is to weed out people using fraudulent methods to get on top without meriting it.
The algorithm Google uses is a secret. It is looking at more then 200 parameters.
Following parameters are certainly looked into:
- The content of your website (relevant keywords, tags, domain name,...)
- Links from other websites & social media (inbound), especially if they have authority. Also internal linking and outbound linking plays some role
- The amount of activity on the website. Google favors a website with some action going on (content changes/is added frequently). You can use some tricks here, like having a blog, to limit your workload.
As stated, those are certainly not the only parameters which play a role in ranking. Recent algorithm changes are also incorporating the historical behavior of the user searching and other people searching to determine if a page will get high up in the search results.