Learn How the Google Search Algorithm Works

What is Google Search Algorithm? How does it work? And, how can you rank higher on Google and get more traffic?

Google’s search algorithm is easily one of the most influential technologies ever created. with an estimated 5.6 billion Google searches per day, it’s safe to say Google has a heavy impact on the world and your business.

What is the Google Search Algorithm?

The Google Search Algorithm refers to the process Google uses to rank content. It takes into account hundreds of factors, including but not limited to keywords mentions, usability, and backlinks

How does the Google Search Algorithm Work?

Google’s algorithm is extremely complex, and how it exactly works is not public information. It’s believed that there are well in excess of 200 ranking factors and nobody really knows them all. Even if they did, it won’t matter because the algorithm is always changing. Googles releases updates to the algorithm, on average, six times per day. That is around 2,000 times per year…

With that being said, Google does give hints on how you can rank well in its results. 

What are the Google Search Algorithm ranking factors?

When you think of a “search algorithm”—as it relates to search engine optimization (SEO)—the first thing that comes to mind is probably Google’s ranking factors. In other words, what is Google looking at when deciding which pages to rank and in which order?

If we look at Google’s “How Search Works” page, it directly reveals some of Google’s most prominent ranking factors:

  1. Backlinks
  2. Freshness
  3. Keyword mentions
  4. User experience
  5. Topical authority

1. Backlinks

Google wants to display pages where prominent websites on the subject are linking to the page. In layman’s terms, it wants to see backlinks from authoritative websites (that are also topically relevant) pointing to your pages.

Acquiring these links is called linking back, and it is arguably one of the most important tasks you should do to get Google to trust and display your website. This is reliable been Google’s biggest deciding factor in determining a site’s trustworthiness since its inceptions in 1996

2. Freshness

Content freshness refers to how “fresh,” or recent, the content on your webpage is. When was the last time it was updated?

This factor matters more for some queries than others. For example, if you search for something news-related, Google will typically rank results published within the last 24 hours.

However, if you search for a topic that doesn’t need to be updated as often, freshness isn’t quite as heavy of an influence. For example, the top-ranking results for “RV storage ideas” are from over two years ago:

This is because good RV storage ideas today are largely the same as they were two years ago. So how recently it was published doesn’t make as much of a difference.

3. Keyword mentions

One of the things Google cares about is “the number of times your search terms appear [on the page you’re trying to rank].” In general, it’s good practice to try to include your exact keyword on the page several times in several places, including:

That said, we don’t believe you need to worry about keyword mentions beyond that. This is as you’ll naturally mention the keyword you’re targeting throughout the content as you’re writing about it.

4. User experience

Google states that it cares about “whether the page has a good user experience.” But what is considered a “good user experience”?

User experience (UX) encompasses a lot of different things, including the following:

5. Topical authority

Google wants to display “sites that many users seem to value for similar queries.” This means sites that have additional, valued content about queries relevant to the one being searched.

While Google isn’t explicit about what it means by “users seem to value,” we can safely assume that topical backlinks are a part of it. So in addition to creating a lot of related content, you also need to acquire links from topically relevant sites.

For example, if you want to rank for “best protein powder,” Google may be more likely to rank you if people also come to your site for content on topics such as the following:

In addition to having content on these topics, you should also aim to acquire topically relevant backlinks to them.

A note on Google algorithm updates

Google updates its algorithm nearly every day, and it releases major updates two to three times per year that can have a fairly massive impact on rankings.

Final thoughts

The Google Search Algorithm is a complex beast with a lot of moving parts, and it’s constantly changing. But its goal of returning the best results for a given search query remains the same.

Despite Google’s many updates, the fundamentals of SEO haven’t changed much since search engines came to be. If you focus on the ranking factors you learned in this article, you will be able to rank on the SERPs.

In essence:

These are the things the Google Search Algorithm cares about, according to Google.

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