What is a search engine algorithm?

The search engine algorithm is a term used to define a complex system of several algorithms that evaluates all the indexed pages and determines which of them should appear in the search results for a given query.

For example, the Google algorithm uses dozens of factors (many of them are well-known, while some of them are kept a secret) in several areas such as:

Meaning of the query (understanding what the user means by using the exact words they used, what is the search intent, etc.)
Page relevance (the search engine needs to find out whether the page answers the search query)
Content quality (the algorithms determine whether the webpages are an excellent source of information based on internal and external factors; number and quality of backlinks are important factors here)
Page usability (considers the quality of webpage from the technical standpoint – responsiveness, page speed, security, etc.)