Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.
SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific search. As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines.
It is no simple equation that Google (and other search engines) use to display their results. I will give you the main points, but it is a complicated algorithm that is not easily explained.
1st of all.. No one can buy search-engine rank or position. You can buy ads, but not organic positioning.
Organic Positioning = non-paid search results based on relativity to search key words
All site pages are indexed by keywords. meaning if a site is relevant for a specific keyword then search-engines will show the site in the results... Site designers use special meta tags, alt tags and title tags to best implement the proper keywords throughout the site... but this does not determine the order. There will be millions of results for each keyword or set of keywords.. so search-engines use many other factors to filter the results and order them based on what they think they know about you and your search.
Important to note about keywords is context. The words around the keywords can determine if the content is relevant or not - Pool Hall is not the same as Swimming Pool - they give you a completely different set of results.
Search-engines look at the content of your whole site to determine what kind of site you are and what your site will be most relevant for.. This may counteract the keyword part in some instances. If you search for 'pool' it wont know if you want a swimming pool or a pool hall, but if you search for swimming pool, it will do a pretty good job of not showing you pool halls. It knows this based on content - but since the key word is still contained, the results are not cancelled, they are just pushed to the bottom (of a very long list)
Search-engines make the decision that a site that has more content on a given subject is more relevant to that search... So even though 2 sites may have very similar content about Pool Halls, one site may have it listed 200 different ways on 200 different pages and on different menus and lists.. this can cause search-engines to give it a higher content rating and push it to the top (or at least a bit higher).
How fresh or new the content is on a site determines it's freshness rating. Content that is constantly being refreshed is generally deemed more relevant then old content that hasn't been updated in months or years.
Simply correcting a few typos wont set your content to fresh - Google and other search-engines are clever and they can recognize the same or similar content. This is why many sites have a type of 'news feed' on their home page where they post blurbs about what the latest thing they did. its an easy way to boost freshness and promote certain relevant items on your site.
Results are actually based on location, and this changes results based on where you are and what computer you search with, it even changes your results based on web browser. Location optimization is extremely complicated to perform, but you get the idea. Optimize your site to your relevant area and make sure that you are not only showing local if your a nation-wide entity, and vice-verse.
Specific to Google, PR is Google's own secret ingredient that they modify from time to time. What we do know is that more backlinks usually equals higher page rank. Backlinks are links TO your site FROM another site. and the higher rank that site is linking to you, the more impact that link has on your sites PR. Some sites, like Amazon and Facebook have literally millions of backlinks, and they maintain the highest PR value of 10.0, they also seem to pop up at the top of many searches. Even searches that keywords and content might be very similar to other sites... The page rank can make a huge difference in Google positioning.
There are many more points, and the descriptions I have given are highly simplified, but these are the types of things that have a huge impact on your site's search-engine-result-positioning. (SERP)
At McCormackDesigns.net we design our sites from the ground up with SEO at the fore-front of all site design. After all, what good is having your site on the internet if no one sees it?