Search engine optimization is the bread and butter of any online business. Anyone who still doubts the effectiveness of SEO should simply glance at how much revenue and search engine rankings correlate. Yet, to most the process of SEO remains a mystery: how could it work if Google (and other search engines) keep the exact workings of their algorithms under a tight lid?
A typical response would be – SEO tools reveal strategies that can be employed to improve search engine result page rankings. Of course, a natural question would still be – how can SEO tools be created if no one knows how the algorithm works? Thus, in this article, we will be explaining the basic development of SEO, how the data required for insights is acquired, and how mainstream tools are created.
To put it simply, SEO refers to web and content development practices that are intended to improve rankings in search engines. Nearly all SEO revolves around the largest search engine on the web – Google. Most specialists use a large variety of online tools to analyze and provide suggestions for possible web and content improvements.
In practice, SEO is a competitive field that revolves around pushing others out of the best positions in search engine result pages. For a long time, best practices were mostly acquired through trial and error, sharing knowledge between experts, and following public Google search engine algorithm updates. Whenever Google updates its algorithm (e.g. The Hummingbird update), it shares the broad improvements made but not any exact details. Nowadays exact details (or the closest possible approximations) are gleaned from large-scale Google data acquisition.
Basically, what SEO experts (and tool developers) can do is acquire a large amount of Google data and start comparing their information sets. Over a large enough sample of relevant data, an understanding of why certain pages rank better than others can be gleaned through reverse engineering. While the insights will never be exact, they will be often close enough for practical application.
A decade ago large-scale Google data acquisition would be nearly impossible. Users would have to acquire most of the data they needed by hand or run very simple scripts that could only extract single queries.
Nowadays, automated data extraction is becoming increasingly sophisticated as good APIs and crawlers can acquire data from multiple pages per second. Crawlers such as SERPMaster utilize a wide array of strategies to extract the data as fast as possible with as little negative impact on the website as possible.
For Google scraping in particular, they usually accept queries from users. The scraper then goes to the queried search result page and downloads the source. Data acquired from the source is often parsed and delivered to the interested party. All this happens over mere seconds. Thus, businesses can acquire incredible amounts of information from search engine result pages to perform any type of analysis they wish.
By now, everything should be coming together. As it might be clear, SEO tools utilize Google scraping tools or services to acquire a consistent flow of data. Of course, to create an SEO tool the data flow needs to be extremely varied, precise, and consistent.
SEO tool developers scrape search engine result pages many times per day. Data is then parsed either by a service or in-house to create easily digestible information. Once parsed, the acquired data is then analyzed in bulk in order to gain insights into the performance of websites and their content. By comparing millions of data points, some aspects of the search engine algorithm can be reverse-engineered. This is the primary strategy used by SEO tool giants like Ahrefs, Moz, or Mangools. Of course, they also never reveal their exact inner workings (especially how they analyze data) but all of them rely on the same basic mechanism – Google scraping.
These SEO tools then sell access to their databases and insights in order to help experts create the most optimized content for search engines. SEO specialists consistently use these databases to analyze pages, compare them to competitors, and use the data to take up the best positions in search engine result pages.
One thing of note is that different SEO tools will often show slightly different conclusions or suggestions. As no one truly knows how the Google search algorithm works and the amount of data traveling through the engine is so vast, predictions can only be somewhat accurate. In most general cases, a lot of SEO tools will agree on their suggestions. But when it comes to edge cases, where there isn’t enough data scraped on a daily basis (e.g. time-sensitive SEO) the predictions become more varied.
SEO tools are quite a mystery to most. Not even all SEO experts know exactly how they acquire their data and provide insights. It all relies on automated data extraction from Google and relevant websites. These SEO tool developers acquire large amounts of data from the search engine and websites to provide the best possible insights into search algorithms.
Nowadays even smaller businesses can scrape Google data for their own purposes. With scraping as a service becoming more ubiquitous, the prices for data have dropped significantly. As long as there are a dedicated marketing and analysis team, businesses can utilize Google data for better decision making, more traffic, and increased revenue.