SEO Today: Understand Google’s Ranking Algorithms

Consumers searching for information today expect Google to display a variety of information from a variety of sources in multiple formats. SEO professionals need to understand the intricacies of Google’s algorithm and figure out the best way to rank their content higher in organic search results.

Google has released a new guide to search ranking systems that lists the main algorithms that have been deployed over the years and are currently driving Google search rankings.

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Core Ranking System

This is the main algorithm that determines where a website ranks in Google organic search results. SEOs often name more than 100 ranking factors that determine a website’s position in the Google SERPs – they usually refer to the core ranking system. It was created with the founding of Google and has evolved a lot since then.

At its heart is a rating system that ranks the importance of a searcher’s query, the relevance of your page to that query, and then the quality, usability, and context and preferences for the user. Pages are ranked based on their combined “score” for all ranking criteria.

Often new algorithms are introduced, tested and if Google determines that the algorithm achieves its goal, it is included in the core ranking system. Notorious legacy systems like Panda and Penguin have been incorporated into the core ranking system over time.

What you need to know:

The basic principles of SEO have not changed over the years: good quality, unique, informative and relevant content from authoritative sources will still come first.

Natural Language Processing

A number of recent systems developed by Google focus on the ability to understand the language naturally spoken by humans and process it to match search queries and online content with the correct context. These systems go well beyond the early days of search, when ranking was largely based on keyword matching, and instead aim to understand search intent and true relevance.

Examples of where NLP comes into play range from understanding all the different ways people relate to shoes – shoes, trainers, boots, moccasins, loafers, trainers – to being able to guide users who want to buy a watch, from those who want to watch movies online. even if they’re looking for something as ambiguous as “watch online.”

Systems that address these Google search challenges include:

  • Bert
  • neural matching
  • Passage Ranking System
  • RankBrain
  • MUMMY

What you need to know:

There’s no need at all to match keywords to queries and make sure you have pages for every variation of your target keywords. Google’s systems are smart enough to recognize contextual relevance almost the same as a human. It is much more important to invest resources in creating original and informative content for SEO.

User Experience Rating

Since page speed and mobile-friendliness have become ranking factors, Google continues to drive webmasters and SEO professionals to improve their user experience. In recent years, Google has started showing core web vitals in Search Console and the PageSpeed ​​Insights tool. The key metrics in this report—biggest content build, first input lag, and cumulative layout shift—indicate how fast and user-friendly a site is.

In addition, site security has also become an important ranking factor. Websites that don’t use HTTPS are likely to struggle to outperform secure websites of similar relevance and authority.

In addition to speed and security, Google also considers originality and reliability to be important factors affecting the user experience in the SERPs. Systems that address user experience challenges for Google Search include:

  • Page Experience System
  • Helpful content system
  • deduplication system
  • Original content system
  • Reliable information systems

What you need to know:

It’s obviously important to use HTTPS and do whatever it takes to speed up your site. Webmasters should follow the PageSpeed ​​Insights tool suggestions to improve their user experience as much as possible.

In addition, it is very important to ensure that the content on your website is unique and actually helpful. Cannibalizing your own content, especially through duplication, is a problem and should be avoided. Trust should be built by consistently fact-checking content and even hiring writers with a good reputation.

spam detection

Ever since rankings were identified as a major source of traffic in organic search, unscrupulous SEOs have been attempting to manipulate Google’s algorithm to rank their own websites or those of their clients higher. Google employs a web spam team specifically to combat content and link spam.

Systems that handle spam-related challenges for Google Search include:

  • spam detection systems
  • link analysis system
  • side rank
  • deduplication system
  • Site Diversity Systems
  • Exact match domain system
  • Distance-based demotion systems

What you need to know:

The original Jagger, Penguin and Panda updates and their subsequent versions are extremely effective in detecting and ignoring or even punishing sources and users of SEO spam techniques. These systems identify link exchanges, paid links, link farms, “thin content” and not only ignore links that are not perceived as quality, editorial, organic links, but also penalize sites that regularly source such links.

It is important for SEO to invest in growing website authority through quality link growth – typically via digital PR – and also to actively disavow spam links pointing to the website.

Special Algorithms

In extraordinary circumstances like national disasters, global pandemics, and even significant local events, searchers turn to Google for information ranging from finding news to locating helplines. Google has developed special algorithms specifically for such queries. Systems that handle unusual quest challenges include:

  • Crisis Information System
  • Local messaging system

What you need to know:

Most commercial websites don’t need to bother with these systems. Google takes great care to show reliable, verified sources of information and works proactively to identify sources of misinformation and either block them or flag them as unreliable sources.

If you’re running SEO for a charity or national/global entity that specifically addresses such challenges, it’s important to understand these specific algorithms and you may need to work directly with Google to ensure the right information is getting to people be made available in case of need.

Read the complete guide to Google search ranking systems

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