Google is known for its powerful algorithm, which observes and ranks essentially all websites on the internet. Using various factors, such as keyword use, link quantity and quality, website speed and more, the algorithm places websites in order of authority and relevance to users, knowing that users are more likely to travel to the first results they see.
More than 93 percent of online experiences begin with a web search, so as the most-used search engine in the world, Google commands a significant amount of web traffic, delivering eager users to those websites its algorithm deems worthiest. Thus, it benefits business leaders of all types to understand a bit more about how Google’s algorithm works — and how they can use the algorithm to their advantage.
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What Is the Algorithm?
The Google Search Algorithm, which is often shortened to simply “the algorithm” or “the algo,” is the extensive set of rules that govern the order in which websites are ranked in search results. To produce search results, Google engages in processes like crawling, in which programs called bots or spiders scour the web, and indexing, in which data collected by the spiders is analyzed to understand what individual webpages mean. However, the algorithm is only involved in the final step of ranking, called serving, in which the algo uses all the compiled information to determine which pages are most relevant and useful to specific search queries.
How Does the Algorithm Work?
Frustratingly, no one outside of Google’s most inner circle understands all the details of the algorithm. Google’s exceedingly powerful algorithm has long allowed the search engine to dominate the search space, so it has become a closely guarded trade secret. Additionally, Google keeps key details hidden to prevent excessive manipulation of the algorithm, which would result in unhelpful search results and an unnavigable internet.
Google does provide some insight into its algorithm through official communication channels. With the crumbs provided in these posts and their own technological prowess, some experts have been able to make exceedingly educated guesses on important aspects of algorithm functionality. For example, experts know with some certainty that the main factors involved in ranking include relevance to the meaning and intent of a search query and the quality of a website or webpage, as determined by originality, completeness, insightfulness, trustworthiness and more.
What Are Algorithm Updates?
The algorithm is far from static. Google releases minor updates as often as every week, and larger updates can occur every few months. Every so often, Google pushes a significant core update, which fundamentally alters its ranking system, causing massive changes to existing search results. Sometimes, Google will give site developers a heads-up about impending updates, as it has with its release of Universal Analytics 360, but in most cases, updates drop unexpectedly, forcing businesses to scramble to make changes that allow them to maintain their ranking or regain lost rank. The reality of updates makes operating a successful website within the rules of the algorithm particularly difficult.
How Can You Work With the Algorithm?
Business leaders benefit from understanding how the algorithm works because it allows them to alter their web assets in ways that raise their rankings and improve engagement and conversion from web users. However, as mentioned above, Google is not overly fond of businesses manipulating search engine results; obvious and destructive tactics to alter search rankings always result in penalties, which may include a much lower ranking or else removal from Google’s index entirely.
Therefore, business leaders need to work with a digital marketing firm to acquire search engine optimization services. SEO resellers staffed with knowledgeable and skilled experts work with most digital marketing agencies to ensure clients have access to the high-quality services they need to take advantage of the algorithm and achieve business success.
Much of the web is built on Google’s algorithm. While business leaders can benefit from developing a basic understanding of the algorithm, it is more important that businesses gain SEO partners who can improve their strategy and operations to bring lasting success.