Decoration Circle
Advanced SEO Textbook

How the Internet Works

Understanding how the Internet works is an important prerequisite for SEO, in this section we outline a step-by-step representation of what happens when a user makes a request to view a web page.

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The Internet is embedded into the very fabric of our everyday lives, to the point where we probably wouldn’t be able to survive without it.

A global computer network that is made up of millions of computers that are interconnected, the Internet works on two core operations: requesting and receiving information.

Below is a step-by-step representation of what happens when a user makes a request to view a web page.

  1. The web page is hosted on a web server.
  2. The browser in your computer requests a particular Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address, i.e.
  3. Thanks to a Domain Name Server (DNS), the URL gets translated into an IP address, i.e. →
  4. Your request gets sent to the web server for the particular web page that you are viewing in a data packet via the Packet Routing Network.
    A packet contains important information about the web page such as the web server’s IP address, your computer’s IP address, the protocol being used as well as the packet number.
  5. Routers and switches then direct the packet from your computer to the web server by it’s IP address..
  6. When the packet arrives, the web server reads the request i.e. “view home page”.
  7. Depending on the size of the web page, the information is split into many packets which contain vital information about how they should be combined at your computer. The packets also contain external IP addresses of both your computer (where the data is going) and the web server (where the data is coming from).
    An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is a unique set of numbers used by computers to identify one another.
  8. Routers and switches direct the packets to the destination (your computer) via the fastest means possible.
  9. Packets arrive at your computer (may not be in the same order that they were sent) and using the information in the packets, your computer puts them together so that the web page is displayed on your screen.

Here’s how it’s all put together: