I can remember when Google first came along, promising improved search. I scoffed. “Who needs better search?”, I said. After all, I knew the most relevant and valuable websites. I knew some people who kept and updated good site lists. I could navigate the web with confidence. I felt like a Renaissance Man of the early web.

And even after my colleagues began using Google, I resisted. I kept plugging away at AltaVista. I kept alternating with Yahoo! I leapt over to Excite for certain search types and AskJeeves for others. I was proud of my knowledge and capabilities.

But I did not know what I did not know.

A couple of tentative searches on this white, clean, non-polluted search engine changed my online behaviour. Now, I did not need to know where to go, because Google knew for me. I could colour my searching by including not just keywords but also sentiment related words. I could search wider, faster from a single interface, rather than jumping from search engine to search engine.

The results were good. Better. Best.

But then, as I began to take on more responsibility for the creation of sites, I realised that there was not just art, but also science, involved in making your site “findable”. The exact recipe for this was held tighter than Colonel Sander’s secret recipe.

And it still is.

But those clever folks over at the PPC Blog have created this stupendous diagram that shows just how Google search works. Well – it’s a good approximation. After all, this really is the secret to Google’s $20 billion a year business.

Take a look and think about how Google (and therefore your customers) find and access your website. Then think about whether you are delivering business value with your current setup. Try to be honest. And then, when you think you have all the boxes ticked, throw “social” into the mix and see how you stack up. Scared? You should be.