Rank your website first on Google: How Search Algorithms work

Neville Bezzina  |  08.11.2018

Over the years, searching the web has evolved and become more sophisticated. Google is constantly refining its algorithms to better understand your customers’ searches and provide them with the best results.

There are certain key areas that these mysterious algorithms tackle that decide whether or not your website will appear in the results and in which position.

ANALYZING SEARCH QUERIES

Finding the web pages that have the right information is complex. The Google search engine has to analyze and try to understand what each individual word comprising the search query means, as well as when group together in that specific sequence. This is achieved through advanced language models that are then used to interpret what combinations of words should be looked up in its massive index of the Web whenever someone makes a search.

Search algorithms also have to figure out what type of information people are looking for, depending on the context. A few key figures to consider are:

  • Does the search keyword refer to something specific, or is it broader in scope? For instance “opening hours” or “location” are anchor phrases that indicate a specific need/

  • Are the users searching for popular keywords at that time, implying they want the latest news?

  • Are they searching for types of businesses in their area, such as restaurants, and need specific information? 

MATCHING SEARCH QUERIES WITH WEB PAGES

The next step is to match web pages with information that matches the search query. Whenever a search is typed in the algorithm instantly scans the engine’s “copy of the web” (also known as the index) to identify the right pages. If those keywords are present on a page, especially in prominent positions such titles or headings, that is the first indication of a potentially good match.

But keywords are just the beginning. Language is also taken into consideration. If you search in English, you don’t want results to come back in French, do you? Even more important nowadays is that Google’s algorithms also look for other clues to try and make sure that the results are useful for the searcher’s intent. When you search for “hot dog recipe” you likely don’t want a page with the word “hot dog” on it hundreds of times. Google’s system attempts and succeeds most of the time to figure out if the page contains an answer to your query. So Search algorithms analyze whether the pages include relevant content — such as pictures of hot dogs, ingredients, how to videos, or even a list of different sauces and condiments.

RANKING THE PAGES BY CONTEXT AND USEFULNESS

Google’s aim is to show only results that are the most relevant at that moment. Every time a search is typed in Google, there are possibly millions of web pages that could be returned as results. So how does the search engine decide which 10 should feature on its first page? By learning at a number of indicative factors, it can evaluate how relevant each page is to the current search query. These include:

  • The freshness of the content

  • How often the search terms appear and the position on the page

  • Whether the page has a good user experience.

  • The popularity of the page with other users and websites

  • The location of the searcher, especially on mobile

If high-quality websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign that the information is of high quality. In fact, creating content that answers people’s questions so that links are added to that page is one of the most highly effective search engine optimization techniques. Trying to rank first on Google by stuffing your website with keywords simply hasn’t worked in years.

SHOWING THE BEST RESULTS

Over time, Google has consistently claimed that their research indicates that users want quick answers to their queries.

To achieve this, before Google serves up search results, the algorithms also take into consideration how all the results complement each other, rather than serving up 10 pages with exact same identical information or content.

It provides a diverse set of information in formats that are most helpful for that type of search. Maps will be shown if you’re in the general area and type in the exact name of a business because the context suggests you’re looking for directions.

Undoubtedly, as the web continues to evolve, so will Google’s algorithms. Stay on top of the latest changes by subscribing to the Think blog and newsletter and get in touch on Facebook or our email if you have any question about your website’s position in search results!