Learning to “Google” something is one of the first, most basic skills in an internet user’s arsenal. On the whole, the concept is pretty simple: you type some words into a box, click “go”, and a list of web pages relevant to those words pops up.
However, in one important way, Google resembles a car. A lot of people use it, but most of them don’t understand how it really works “under the bonnet”.
Google searches the internet to find pages that are relevant to whatever you typed in: that much is obvious. But there are usually pages upon pages of results, often containing millions of sites, with the most relevant moved to the top. How does it decide which ones are most relevant in order to rank them accordingly?
It’s All Done With Maths
The answer is one of maths. Google uses algorithms, coded by humans. These are long, complex and regularly updated equations that help Google assess a website using cold, hard data, and determine how it should be ranked.
Paid adverts get sorted to the top of the page (and labelled as ads to prevent confusion), but they are still assessed in a similar way to ensure they appear in the most appropriate searches. A specialist Adwords consultant such as Elevate UK will be able to help you optimise your Google Adwords adverts in order to help Google assess them properly and show them to a more targeted group of users.
But What Does it Assess?
So Google uses complex algorithms to assess websites. That on its own doesn’t really tell you much. In order to really get a grasp of what Google is up to when it pulls up search results, you need to have an idea of what data is being put into that equation to assess the relevance of a site. There are countless factors at play, but a few are particularly worthy of discussion.
One of the first things it looks at will be whether the words you typed in appear on the page. The way it does this is surprisingly complex. People used to (and still do) try to “game” search engines by crowding popular phrases on to their site. Google penalises these severely, and looks for natural inclusion as well as inclusion in key places like headings. Overall, however, keywords are now far less important than they once were.
Another major thing Google assesses is the number and relevance of links coming into and going out of the site. The logic here is that sites which are both relevant and useful tend to receive links from other sites in the same area, and will likely link to such sites as well. If you are searching for “blue widgets” and site has been linked by a lot of other pages talking about blue widgets, this probably means people have found the content useful and worth linking to.
Google will also assess factors relating to the site itself. Things like fast loading times and a good structure that Google’s systems find it easy to navigate will all count in its favour.