What Is Black Box?

Jake Sheridan
Oct 16, 2021

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While most of us know a black box as a flight data recorder that must be found after a plane crash (because it tracks the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, the crash site, communication with air traffic control, and other flight details), SEO specialists know “black box” as a Google algorithmThisthis article, we help distinguish between the black box in aircraft accident investigations (which isn’t black – it’s bright orange), such as in the infamous Malaysia airlines flight and Air France flight 447, and what it means as a Google ranking component.

What is a Black Box?

A black box is a system whose internal inputs and outputs are entirely unknown to the outside world, which allows it to be responsive or adaptable depending on its environment.

This term comes from the physical engineering world where equipment such as furnaces, boilers, valves, heat exchangers, turbines, and switches may be analyzed by looking at their external inputs (the input side) and outputs (the output side) only.

Black box algorithms are among the most powerful tools in business, marketing, entertainment, and politics today, especially monopolization. This is because they can respond rapidly when industry or society changes without having any foreseeable input into these changes themselves.

Algorithms are thought to be black boxes due to their extreme importance and abstract nature in machine learning. Algorithms are steps that computers follow when performing specific tasks. The steps involved may be elementary and involve very few rules or complex, involving thousands of regulations.

Why are Black Boxes Important?

Black box algorithms are compelling, and they are also significant. The most obvious reason is that they affect the lives of everyone on Earth in a big way.

For instance, Google has become the number one search engine mainly because it uses black box algorithms to show relevant, trustworthy material to users – for free. Black box algorithms also affect politics and jobs and have many other subtle and not-so-subtle effects on society.

However, black box algorithms are so important because it’s impossible to separate them from our modern world. You cannot think about any action, product or service without black box algorithms; they are an integral part of our experience with technology today.

Every time you look at a news feed, your Youtube feed, your Google results pages – you’re looking at the results of a black box algorithm. Because we don’t entirely know how the algorithm works, but we take the output without question, these algorithms are black boxes.

Black Box FAQ

Is Google a black box?

According to these definitions, Google is a black box. A little more specifically, Google Search is a black box. This is because nothing about the inner workings of Google Search (the way that it processes information) has been released to the public, and there’s also very few people who even know how Google Search works. For all intents and purposes, the internal operations of this algorithm can be considered unknown.

However, Google might be a somewhat see-through black box. This is because we know certain components definitely contribute to their rankings, such as backlink quality and well-researched keyword analysis. Furthermore, ensuring your website’s internal linking structure is optimized for SEO will help rank your web pages, and performing an SEO audit, will help you do well in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of back box algorithms.

We interact with these black box algorithms every day, and it’s important to understand that these algorithms result from software testing and different testing techniques to give the public and content consumers material that keeps them engaged most effectively.

To discover how we at Loganix can help you rank using Google’s black box algorithm, please take a look at our SEO packages.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

Explore Services

Written by Jake Sheridan on October 16, 2021

Founder of Sheets for Marketers, I nerd out on automating parts of my work using Google Sheets. At Loganix I build products, and content marketing. There’s nothing like a well deserved drink after a busy day spreadsheeting.