Keywords and Search Engines (The Bare-Bottom Basics Every Author Should Know)

If you’re online trying to sell something or even simply working to generate visibility, chances are you’ve heard of the term ‘keyword.’

Keywords are simply words or phrases that people use to search for things online.

So, suppose I wanted to look up ‘horse breeds’ for a story I’m writing. I’d input ‘horse breeds’ in a Google (or other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo) search box.

Google will scour its millions of bits of information to find content (blog posts or other web pages) that it feels will be the best answer for that search query – that keyword.

But, to make it more understandable, you should know the very basics of SEO (search engine optimization).

According to, “There are three pieces of software that together make up a search engine: the spider software, the index software, and the query software.”

Search engines, like Google, have ‘spiders’ that find new information – new web pages. This might be your new blog post, a new sales page, or new content on an existing web page.

All the new information the spiders gather is given to indexing software. This software analyzes words and word/link combinations to determine what the content is about. The information is then sorted and stored. There it’s ready to be picked up by Google in response to a person’s search query. Say my ‘horse breeds’ one.

So, as mentioned, the spider software finds the new content, gives it to the indexing software which stores it and makes it ready to supply to the query software.

It’s the index software that actually figures out what the content is about.

When I input ‘horse breeds’ into a Google search box, the query software takes over. It goes to all the information stored in the index software to find the best answer to my query.

You might think of it as a filing system in an office. A new document is created (from found sources) and stored in a filing cabinet, in a specific place. When that document is needed, the query software knows exactly where to find it in the filing cabinet. It is retrieved and ready to use.

Pretty simple, right.

So, what about keywords.

Well, while the spider and index software are very sophisticated and can get the gist of your new content just by its terminology, keywords make their job a bit easier.

While keywords are not overly powerful anymore, they still make the finding and indexing process easier.

Going back to my ‘horse breed’ keyword, if a web page matches that keyword, and Google believes that web page has valuable information related to ‘horse breeds,’ it will use that web page as the results of my search query.

And, what’s amazing, this all happens in a fraction of a second. It’s hard to believe that millions or billions of bits of information can be scoured and the best results are served up in under a second.

And, considering that Google processes approximately 40,000+ search queries per second, it’s mind-boggling.


Karen Cioffi is a children's ghostwriter and author/writer online platform instructor for WOw! Women on Writing.

You can connect with Karen at:

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Perfect info for newbie authors. Now let's have one on how to manipulate websites like our own--and online bookstores!

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, do you mean how to make website search engine optimized?

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