You’ve got a brand new website and have already begun promoting it. The only thing left is getting the phone to ring and achieving your company’s ROI goals. However, between you and the desired outcome is one of the greatest obstacles of modern-day web marketing – Google’s search algorithms.
If your business is to thrive online, you’ll need to have some understanding of search engine optimization (SEO). More importantly, you should have some idea of how to make it work to your benefit. This guide will help you get there.
How Google Works
Google has been doing its job for nearly two decades, and is the most used search engine by far, with little competition in sight. The search engine giant has mastered the game, and with good reason—users have come to trust the reliability of Google’s search engine results. A while back we wrote a very comprehensive post on How Google Works and if you want way more information on the topic, check this post out.
Even to a layperson, the concept placing more relevant results to the top of the search engine results makes sense. And this is what Google does on every search query. So whether your search returns hundreds of pages or hundreds of thousands, users know that the results that appear first are most likely to match their intent; this is no accident – it is the result of a very deliberate process on Google’s part.
Google’s Ranking Engineers
Google is constantly working to improve and building upon their algorithm. In fact, they’ve even gone so far as to create a key personnel position around this process – the ranking engineer. The ranking engineer’s job is to ensure that each search engine query yields the best possible results and that the best matches appear at the top while the lower quality sites appear towards the bottom of the results pages.
Key Search Engine Components
Laying the Groundwork – Google is constantly working. To this point, one of the tactics they use is employing electronic ‘web-crawlers’ to scour the web. These web spiders find every page on the web, along with their links, their data, and tags.
Afterwards, they catalogue each finding to a central index. This centralizes the information so that the moment a user enters a search term, Google is ready to return relevant results.
Processing Search Queries – When you enter a query into Google, the search engine reviews the index, looking for anything that may be important to the search. The index scores a page’s relevance, popularity, and quality, along with a host of other ranking factors. After assessing thousands of scores and sorting through each page, the search engine returns the results in order of relevance, with the most relevant results appearing at the top.
Understanding the Google Index
The simplest metaphor for this complex idea is that Google’s index resembles a really big book. Upon visiting the book’s index, you find a list of words, arranged by topic. Next to each word are page numbers that tell you where to find the topic.
Depending on what the publisher feels is important, the index headings could reference events, places, specific people, etc. Likewise, they could point to specific pages, sections, or paragraphs within the book. And it’s up to you – the reader – to decide which headings are most relevant, this is very similar to how Google’s Index works.
Processing Search Queries
Upon entering your search, Google scans the index and displays its results. Within milliseconds, Google sorts out the query based on keywords, content, links, and other ranking factors to help you find the most relevant pages. It all happens nearly instantaneously.
Scoring Signals and Content Quality
What gives a page a high score or a top ranking? There are many factors that Google uses to score websites. But what it really boils down to is page quality. How do you quantify page quality? You look at:
- Page Authority
- The Author’s Expertise
- Trustworthiness of the Website
These characteristics determine how Google views a given website. So if a website contains a helpful amount of well-written content, is authoritative, and possesses a strong reputation, then Google will most likely deem the site to be of high-quality.
We live in an increasingly mobile-driven world. In fact, in 2015 Google announced that mobile searches had surpassed desktop searches. So it should come as no surprise that mobile friendliness is another ranking factor, meaning that sites that respond to mobile devices tend to outperform non-mobile sites in search engine results.
If all else fails, Google also uses live subjects to test website relevance and quality. This helps them determine the effectiveness of their algorithm while also functioning as a fail-safe mechanism that allows them to flag low-quality sites that may have evaded the algorithm.
It’s important to realize that Google isn’t a mysterious entity that’s just out to penalize your business. Indeed, the search engine is merely a tool that can be used to help your business. So put this knowledge to use and work SEO to your advantage. To learn how to make SEO work for your business, call us today.