The search world found itself in a little bit of an uproar this week as Mobilegeddon struck. Google rolled out a change to its algorithm that prioritized sites that are mobile-friendly over sites that aren’t. This sent site owners scrambling to ensure that their sites wouldn’t lose any of the ranking they had built up over time.
It also got a lot of people wondering how, exactly, search works. Everyone has run a Google search. Few have actually considered what goes into making the results that are displayed once you hit Enter.
It’s all about the algorithm.
Google’s algorithm is the result of years of constant improvement and tweaking. Once simply used to determine how many times keywords showed up on a web page, the engine now uses hundreds of factors to determine how relevant a particular site is to a particular user. Keywords still play a role but theyare just one factor in a vast sea of factors, or signals, that are used.
So, how does it all come together?
Explaining that would take a really long time! But, in a nutshell, Google deploys pieces of software called crawlers and spiders to the vast majority of the sites on the internet. These pieces of code “read” your website and key parts of the back end code that powers it. Using what they find, the crawlers then report their findings back to the Google search algorithm which takes all of the information, analyzes it, and stores it.
No, not this type of crawler!
When you bring up the search engine and enter your search terms, the software takes them and, knowingwhat it knows about the sites in its index, builds a list of sites ordered by relevance and displays that list for you.
Relevance is determined by hundreds of factors and the algorithm is updated hundreds of times throughout the year. Key factors include keywords, number of links into that content from authoritative sources, social signals, geographic proximity, and how much authority a particular domain has on various topics.
All of this happens in a fraction of a second.
How Can I Maximize the Chance of My Website Ranking Well?
This is a process called search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO takes what we know about Google and uses it to do everything possible on a webpage to encourage the search engine to rank one site over another.
One of the keys to modern SEO is creating high quality content that encourages people to share it or to link to it. Those who simply stuff their content full of keywords in today’s search environment will find themselves at the bottom of the index or completely de-indexed as a result. The algorithm is capable of making penalizing decisions on its own. At the same time, manual actions by Google employees themselves can be made that will penalize a site if the algorithm misses somethingg.
You should make sure that the topic of a particular page is very clear. Well written content is key here, but, there are also some back end strategies that can use the code of your website to answer all of Google’s questions regarding what it will find on your site.
Being found and indexed with a search engine shares a key aspect of running a brick and mortar store: make it easy for customers to find you and to spend their money. If either of those things are difficult, the customer will move on. The same holds true for Google: it focuses on the sites that make its job the easiest. With over a billion pages to index, it’s too busy to do otherwise.
What If I Need Help?
A qualified web development agency can easily set the ball in motion to improve your search engine ranking and increase the odds of you ranking over your competitors. A lot has changed over the years in search and only those that have stayed current will know the best strategies and methods to keep you competitive. Ask your agency what they do to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and techniques and ensure that they focus on playing by Google’s rules. Using so called “black hat” techniques, while perhapsproviding an initial boost in search traffic, will eventually result in penalties. Build your site’s authority cleanly and gradually and you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts for years to come.