Over the past few decades, Google has cemented itself as one of the most recognizable and powerful companies in the world. In today’s day and age, it’s fair to say that when most people need a quick answer to a question, looking it up on Google is the first thing that comes to mind.
In fact, Google handles 3.8 million searches a minute which equates to over 2 trillion searches a year. Plus, they boast 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide.
These numbers are both remarkable and significant for businesses and websites across the world. If someone wants to bring exposure to their website or business, ranking amongst the top sites on Google is undoubtedly one of the best ways to do it. The question then becomes, how exactly do you go about doing that? How does Google’s search algorithm actually rank websites? Fully understanding Google’s algorithm updates has been at the top of the list for search engine optimists across the world for years. This article is going to help you get a significantly better idea of all the factors that play into Google’s search algorithm and how these factors change over time.
How Does Google’s Search Algorithm Work?
The golden question that every search engine optimist wants to know is how exactly does Google’s search algorithm work? This is important for people to understand how the Google algorithm updates, too. Technically, no one outside of Google fully understands all of the factors that play into their system for ranking websites. However, a general understanding of the algorithm has been developed amongst web geeks.
The general consensus is that Google’s algorithm looks at two things when deciding its rankings: authority and relevancy. Google creates rankings based on information gathered by its “spiders.” These spiders have been coded with a variety of different algorithms to determine how well a particular page can answer a search query. The spiders take into account the quality of content, keywords, optimization, and backlinks of a given site. Then, they forge their ranking based on which one checks the most boxes as it relates to the question asked. These spiders are constantly being updated by engineers to improve their algorithm so that the best websites show up right away for users. Despite this truth, there is nothing you can do with 100% certainty to get the number one ranking on Google. This is because the company is constantly changing its algorithm in hopes of improving the quality of search results.
How Do Google Algorithm Updates Change Rankings?
Having a general understanding of how Google’s search algorithm works is crucial in quality search engine optimization. However, as mentioned, fully understanding this algorithm is close to impossible for people outside of the company. The reason for this is that Google constantly updates its algorithm in hopes of providing the best, most relevant search results for its users. In fact, in 2018, Google made an average of 3,200 updates at a rate of about 9 per day.
These updates tweak and refine the main and micro-algorithms that adjust the importance of each factor that is used in determining rankings. There are hundreds of ranking factors that search engine optimists focus on in hopes of improving a client’s website ranking. Many more are based on pure speculation. Google doesn’t like to disclose information on how exactly they rank websites because they don’t want low-quality websites that know how to play the algorithm to have ranking priority over high-quality, relevant websites. Consequently, Google only shares information when they make major algorithm updates.
What are the Types of Google Algorithm Updates?
There are three different types of Google algorithm updates, with each one varying in its impact on the algorithm as a whole.
Major Google algorithm updates are updates that have a specific purpose in solving a particular issue. This may or may not include the creation of a new micro-algorithm. In the past, Google has introduced these updates under fun code names such as Panda, Penguin, Fred, or Hummingbird. Each of these updates has altered or fixed aspects of the algorithm that Google deemed underperforming or broken. In many cases, Google will let websites know when they are about to introduce a major update so that webmasters will adjust their websites accordingly. Typically, these updates only occur once or twice a year.
Broad Core Updates
While major updates typically focus on addressing a particular issue through tweaks within their micro-algorithms, broad core updates are more general. They directly target the main algorithm. Although you’d probably think that tweaking the main algorithm would have more of an impact than tweaking micro-algorithms, the reality is that updates made to the main algorithm typically involve changing the importance of a few ranking factors. For example, a broad core update may deem the number of backlinks present in a page more significant than the amount of meta tags used. These updates typically only occur 3 to 4 times a year.
Minor Google search engine updates are occurring on a daily basis without most people even realizing it. They don’t involve major changes to the main algorithm or any of the micro-algorithms. Instead, they are slight refinements that help to improve the relevancy of search results. Thousands upon thousands of these updates occur every year.
How Can You Be Prepared for Algorithm Updates?
Despite the fact that Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, search engine optimists have been able to pinpoint some of the general factors that impact their rankings. Here are some tips you can incorporate to help your website rank better!
Google Values Quality Content Heavily
Google’s algorithm deems quality content as one of the most important factors in determining a website’s rank. Creating content that is comprehensive, relevant, and informative is key to ranking well. You want to be able to answer all of the questions that someone coming to your page for information will want to know. That being said, this information should be written in a way that is easy to navigate and understand. Including catchy headlines, keywords, and images can also improve the quality of your content in the eyes of Google’s algorithm as well.
A Well-Optimized Page Will Always Rank Higher
One of the things that Google’s algorithm searches for when coming up with its rankings is how well your page is optimized. What exactly does “optimized” mean you might ask? A successfully optimized website typically includes metadata, meta titles, meta descriptions as well as onsite H1 and H2 tags on each page.
Simply put, metadata, titles, and descriptions are the information that appears when your page is searched for. For example, say you look up a question on Google. The highlighted information underneath the search results that may help to solve your problem or answer your question is the meta description. The title or link that you click off of Google to arrive on that page is the meta title. The better the description or title does in answering the question, the higher the odds that your particular website will be ranked near the top.
Google Feasts on Backlinks
If you don’t know what a backlink is, they are essentially the links that direct back towards your website. Search engine algorithms use the number of backlinks as a benchmark for the popularity or importance of your website. That being said, including thousands of poor backlinks that have little to no functionality is not the way to go. Google’s algorithm, for example, has a method of differentiating good, useful backlinks and bad, useless backlinks. Thus, it is important to only include quality backlinks within your site. This is the only way that Google’s algorithm will reward you for including backlinks so take advantage of it! A few ways to improve the quality of your backlinks is by using link-building techniques, focusing on outreach, bringing in guest bloggers, and utilizing digital PR.
Prepare Your Website for Future Google Algorithm Updates
Google truly has a lot of power over the internet nowadays. Ranking atop their search engine results page (SERP) is something that every website, business, brand, or organization hopes to accomplish. However, it will require a great deal of research, time, and capital to do this on your own.
Luckily, our search engine optimists here at SEO Design Chicago do an excellent job at predicting future Google search engine updates and implementing the necessary adjustments within your organization’s website to keep you at the top of Google’s SERP. Learn more about the different services we offer and don’t be afraid to reach out for a consultation!
FAQs about Google Algorithm Changes:
- How do I keep up with Google algorithm changes?
- How do you beat Google’s algorithm?
- What kind of content does Google like the most?
- How often does Google perform search engine updates?
- How do Google’s algorithms work?