Interesting Facts About Google's Algorithm
“You want the answer, not trillions of web pages. Algorithms are computer programs that look for clues to give you back exactly what you want.”
You asked — we answered. We’ve heard you want to learn more about how Google works, so today we are continuing to explore the world of SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.
In this article, we’re going to explain how Google ranks websites and how their process has changed over time. The information might sound a bit advanced, but we know you can handle it. I
There are many search engines out there ranking websites, but Google is far and away the most popular, claiming approximately 65% of searches around the globe.
What is the Google algorithm?
Google’s algorithm is really a series of complex computer programs used to rank websites and determine which ones to display in Search Engine Results Pages — better known as “SERPs.” A SERP is a page shown by a search engine in response to a query made by someone. Google sends out bots or automated web crawlers to scan every website around the world to understand what they are about and determine where to display them in results pages.
The goal of Google’s algorithm is simple: provide every single person who performs a search with an ordered list of the most relevant websites for their query. According to Ben Gomes, Google’s Vice-President of Engineering, the company’s goal is “to get you the exact answer you’re searching for – faster.”
How does Google decide how to rank sites?
Actually, it’s a huge mystery! The algorithm itself is a top secret formula that Google updates all the time. As they develop ways to better rank websites and show the results that will most help searchers, their algorithm changes. While no one knows exactly which factors Google takes into consideration or how much weight each one is given, we do know that they look at the following aspects to rank websites:
Quality of the website content
Freshness of content/how often site is updated
Number and quality of websites linking to site
Keywords/terms used in the site
Age of website
Location of searcher and business
Amount of time that people spend on the website (also known as “time on page”)
Over 200 other factors…
All of this essentially means that there is a lot you can do on your website to boost your SEO.
What’s an algorithm update?
As Google learns more about how searchers seek information, they update their algorithm to improve the way they order websites. Basically, an update refers to a change in the way computer programs crawl websites and determine how to display them in SERPs.
How often does the algorithm change?
In the earlier days of Google, the algorithm was updated every few months. High ranking websites could stay at the top of the SERP for a long time, unfettered by competitors. These days, the competition is tougher because Google makes over 600 changes to its algorithm in a year, and the vast majority of these are not announced. This means that the ranking of websites evolves all the time. As a website owner, you can find yourself in first place one day and third the next. To keep your place, you want to continually update your site and create interesting, fresh content.
Penguins and pandas: what’s it all about?
While small changes happen daily, every so often Google significantly updates their algorithm. When this occurs, they usually let the world know with a formal announcement. Unless you’re an SEO-junkie, however, you’re unlikely to get the news. Historically, new versions have each been christened with the name of an animal. Think pandas, penguins and hummingbirds. With all their updates, they may soon have to switch from fauna to flora.
The Google algorithm and you
If you aren’t an SEO professional, there isn’t much to worry about when it comes to the Google algorithm.
You simply need to focus on creating a site that helps visitors, answers their questions, and provides them what they are looking for. Do this well and your users will love your site, spend a long time on it, and share it with their friends. Build up your traffic and Google, too, will start to take note. Before long, you’re sure to start rising the ranks!