What ethical search engine optimization really does

Suppose there are 1000 hotels in New York, each of which has a website. When somebody types "New York hotels" into a search engine, all 1000 websites are equally relevant to the search. Because of the way that Google and other engines have been designed, they normally display the results 10 at a time. But which of the 1000 hotel sites will be displayed in the first 10, which of them will be displayed in the second 10......and which will be placed right at the bottom of the pile?

It is well-known that searchers don't look very far down the results, so the sites that are nearer the top will take all the business, and those that are further down will get none. But which sites will be at the top? Google uses its algorithms to determine the order of the results. It is patently obvious that all 1000 equally relevant websites will not be displayed on the first results page (the top 10). It is also obvious that equally relevant sites cannot be displayed where they belong. Some necessarily become more equal than others.

So what if the owner of one of the websites decides to try and push his site to the top? Is that wrong? Of course not. The site is just as relevant as the top ones; it's just that Google cannot satisfy all the relevant sites. This is where ethical search engine optimization come in.

Search engine optimization optimizes a website's pages, so that they will be ranked higher in the search results for the most relevant search terms, according to what the website has to offer. Search engines may well display relevant results at the top, but they can't display all the relevant results at the top. Search engine optimization allows the pages of relevant websites to be displayed at or near the top of relevant search results. And that's all it does.

So what are search engines like Google so afraid of? SEOs have exactly the same aim as the engines - relevant search results. The difference is that search engines don't care about individual websites, whereas search engine optimizers and website owners do. That's the only difference. Engines don't care if a particular website is in the top 10; SEOs care very much that a particular website is in the top 10. But they can't get an off-topic site there because the search engine algorithms see to that. And that's an important point - search engine optimization can only get pages to the top of relevant results. The search engines' own algorithms keep off-topic pages out.

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