Technical SEO Basics | How the Web Works

Chapter 1

Technical SEO Basics – Course Overview

Using a computer is easy these days, but how exactly are websites accessed? And why is this important for SEO? In this lesson, we’ll be covering the basics on how the web works.

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Search engines are always evolving, serving as an answer machine that tries to provide the best results to users. Understanding how search engines like Google work will provide a deeper level of knowledge that helps break down technical SEO issues you will come across.

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Meta tags are tags that describe metadata within an HTML document. Learn about the important meta tags and the ones you can ignore.

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After learning about the different types of meta tags and directives, you’ll want to know how to set and optimize them.

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Understanding the different parts of the anatomy of a URL is an important part of digital marketing and technical SEO. Learn about the basics of HTTP, HTTPS, and HTTP/2 and how they can help to enhance your online search presence.

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Table of Contents

Using a computer is easy these days, but how exactly are websites accessed? And why is this important for SEO? In this lesson, we’ll be covering the basics on how the web works. 

Why is Understanding the Web Important for Technical SEO?

When it comes to diagnosing technical SEO issues, some of the issues that are touched on are related to pagespeed, crawling, and rendering.

With these types of issues, having a core understanding of how the web works will make it clearer on why certain website improvements will have an impact on your search rankings.

Key Terms of the Web


This is typically the web browser on a computer, but may also be the entire user machine or computer. The client’s purpose is to make requests from web servers based on user interactions. When you go to load webpages, your machine would be considered the client.

Web Server

A web server is a computer connected to the internet that stores web server software and website’s component files. The server will take requests from other machines like the client and respond accordingly. There are various types of servers, but in this instance we are focusing on the web server.

IP Address

The Internet Protocol Address is a unique identifying number that is assigned to different computers for communication.


An ISP is your internet service provider, like Cox, ATT, Centurylink, etc. that acts as a middle man between your computer and a server. The ISP conducts a DNS lookup to figure out which IP address you are trying to reach.


DNS stands for Domain Name System, and this is a database that keeps track of domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. This is what makes it easier to connect to other machines.

Domain Name

The “Simple name” that is used to identify one or more ip addresses.


Hyper-text Transfer Protocol is the protocol used by web browsers and web servers to communicate over the internet.

How the Web Works

The web works by connecting computers together through a connection. This connection could be a physical wire, which is the case for the base connection of the internet. 

The data that is passed through that connection for many people (through that physical wire) is a network of really long cables under the sea.

There are other methods of connecting to the internet, like satellite, cellular connections, amongst others.

With that said, you can see how connecting to certain websites based on server location may impact loading.

A Basic Overview of How Websites Work Inside the Web

When you are connecting to another computer, or a server, you are making a request for the IP Address to make that connection between the two devices. The IP address is easier to read through a domain name, like, thanks to the DNS.

When you type a URL into your browser, you are making a request for a specific resource based on the information in the URL. 

You have the protocol, HTTPS

The domain name,

And the resource, in this case the index page.

The browser communicates with your ISP  to conduct a DNS lookup of the IP address in search for the IP address of the web server hosting

Once that IP address is received by your ISP, it is sent to your web browser and a connection is made.

After the connection is made, the browser sends an HTTP request to the web server for the main HTML of the web page.

If the page is valid and exists, it is sent back to your browser, which then takes the page and parses through it looking for other assets that may need to be requested.

When all the assets on the HTML page are loaded, the page is loaded and the connection will close.

How Browsers Work

After the browser connects and receives the information needed, there are steps that it goes through to make the page readable.

The browser starts by rendering the content, parsing the HTML, then generating the DOM (Document Object Model).

The DOM is how the objects in your HTML document are laid out. You’ll notice that the DOM is different than your source code because it can be manipulated by JavaScript. 

The browser will work through the DOM to paint the page on your screen by paying attention to the styles, positions, and much more of each object.

Key Takeaways

That is a basic rundown of how the web works. There are a few more layers that I have left out to simplify the explanation, but I’ve linked out to a few resources below for you to check out.

I recommend jumping in and reading through a few of those to solidify your knowledge on the different parts of the web.

The biggest takeaway from understanding how the web works is that you are making a connection to a server from your computer pulling in the files of the webpage you are trying to access. Knowing this will help break down concepts like pagespeed.

Additional Resources

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