What you need to know about Google’s algorithm and your website

For many, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a complex aspect of digital marketing that is constantly changing. Whilst the latter is true, the core concepts and trends underpinning SEO are quite easy to understand with some basic study.

One thing that continues to perplex business owners is Google’s indexing algorithm. Considering the fact that Google is continually updating and revising their search algorithm, it can be incredibly difficult for many businesses to adapt to changes as they occur. Even the most experienced digital marketers need to rely on what are essentially educated guesses about how the algorithm functions, as only Google’s internal staff can claim to have all the facts.

What you need to know about Google’s algorithm and your website

With that said, SEO consultants are the best equipped to help businesses establish the most favourable SEO strategy possible that can be easily adjusted to meet the new standards set out by Google.

Let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions regarding how Google’s algorithm evaluates your website:

How does Google index your information?

In essence, Google analyses or ‘crawls’ the entire web using a code called ‘spider.’ This program navigates web pages via links, copying the page and sending it to Google’s servers. Google will disregard pages with low value content that is either duplicated from existing pages or offers little value for users. Given the vast array of information and content on the internet, Google has devised a series of shortcuts to improve search query functionality. This is known as indexing. Stop words like “and”, “if” or “the” are generally not stored in Google’s algorithm. These are important things to understand when creating a webpage that will be favourably indexed by Google.

How does Google rank your webpage?

What you need to know about Google’s algorithm and your website

Now that your content has been indexed, it needs to be ranked. From a strategic business perspective, this is one of the most important parts of the entire process. The position at which your website is placed has a profound effect on your visibility, and consequently, your profitability online.

Ideally, your site can be found when matched with a relevant search query. For example, if your business sells pet food, then searches like “cat food” or “dog biscuits” would be search terms relevant to your business. However, depending on the industry or field you operate in, there could be thousands of other websites with very similar content to your own, and this is where the competition can get fierce.

Google has its own set of weighted metrics which it uses to evaluate web pages and rank them. The webpages that perform the best will be ranked higher in Google’s listings, leading to greater online visibility, user interaction and most importantly; sales. Improving your website’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking is the ultimate goal of any SEO strategy you undertake.

What type of metrics does Google record?

There are a variety of metrics that Google takes into consideration when ranking web pages. Google uses these metrics to evaluate the authority, quality and overall value of a website so as to avoid serving low quality results to its user base.

There is a robust array of Google ranking factors that you need to tailor your website for in order to be indexed favourably. Some examples of this include making sure that your website’s content is well-written and engaging for users as well as including relevant links to other websites Google has deemed to be high authority.

Additionally, Google will also take into consideration your webpage’s useability and overall technical competency. Google will not rank web pages highly if they are littered with intrusive advertisements or are slowed down by too many high resolution images and other clunky uses of digital media. In addition, page speed is also incredibly important for both users and the search engine. Users generally become frustrated with slow-loading or aesthetically poor webpages, meaning it is in Google’s best interest to show results that both load quickly and have a clear visual appeal.

Apart from these metrics, Google primarily uses the presence of keywords as signals suggesting the subject matter of your website. In the early days of SEO, littering your website with keywords in order to aggressively inflate its search relevancy was a common tactic. Since then, Google’s algorithm has become significantly more sophisticated in how it evaluates the presence of keywords, rewarding sites that use them in in an ethical and sincere way and punishing those that seek to ‘stuff’ them in an unethical manner.

Tactics that seek to exploit Google’s algorithm are commonly referred to as ‘black-hat SEO’ and should be avoided at all costs. These tactics should be avoided not just because they’re unethical, but because they are ineffective and invite harsh penalties from Google ranging from temporary search penalties to the outright banning of your website from search results.

How can you use SEO tactics to improve your ranking?

What you need to know about Google’s algorithm and your website

There are a wide variety of methods you can employ in order to improve your website’s ranking for search terms related to your website. These tactics seek to ‘optimise’ the content and performance of your website so that it has a high presence of favourable ranking signals for Google to analyse.

All SEO tactics are designed to make you website as attractive as possible to Google’s algorithm so that it will want to serve it to their users. When you help Google by providing high-value, authoritative, user friendly and technically proficient web content for their users, Google helps you by listing your website highly in their search results page.

If you are inexperienced with SEO, then the above information may still seem daunting to try and wrap your head around. This is why so many businesses choose to rely on the expertise of SEO consultants in order to manage this complicated aspect of digital marketing on their behalf.