Google is the search engine of choice for billions of active Internet users around the world. It is used by everyday users as well as large organizations and businesses. Google’s ability to provide its users with the most accurate and relevant results for their queries has made it one of the most popular and widely used search engines in the world.
Google uses software called web crawlers that crawl the web and analyze the content of websites they find on the internet so that entries can be created for a search engine index. Google has complex algorithms that analyze web pages based on their relevance to the end user. Google rates web pages based on its opinion of their authority and usefulness to searchers. So, if a web page appears higher in the search results during a Google search, it means that it is the most reliable and accurate result for the given search query according to Google.
In the search results pages, you find answers to search queries that consist of keywords. Google’s AI understands the intent and meaning of every search query, then processes it into concepts. There are over 210 known factors that influence which websites will rank on the search results page for a particular search query.
Now the most important thing you need to know here is that a lot of ranking factors are created by Google’s AI algorithms themselves. So, figuring out how Google decides which websites to rank for when searching can seem difficult. But luckily there are some strategies you can implement to improve your websites ranking in search engines. Additionally, Google often shares news about their latest algorithm updates. You can review them to better understand how Google ranks websites.
In this blog, we’ll discuss some important things that will give you a clear idea of how Google ranks websites and what you can do to improve your site’s ranking on Google. So let’s get started.
Is Google Changing Its Ranking Algorithm?
Google regularly publishes algorithmic updates. These may be minor or larger updates. The goal of Google’s algorithmic updates is to improve search results and deliver the most relevant results to searchers that match their search queries.
Google typically releases larger algorithmic updates every 3-6 months and they affect millions of websites and web pages at once. However, it cannot be predicted exactly when Google will release an update. You may lose your search engine ranking after a major Google update. If you notice that your search engine ranking has dropped drastically, you will need to use SEO processes that consist of scavenging strategies. That said, well-maintained websites may not be affected much by an update from Google.
Types of Google algorithm updates
Google is releasing minor algorithm updates as well as larger changes called “Extended Base Algorithm Updates”. Minor updates occur 5 to 9 times a day. In 2018, Google announced over 3,200 updates (around 9 updates per day). These changes may result in a change in classification positions. You can estimate the size of updates based on the peak of ranking fluctuations.
You can expect an « Extended Base Algorithm Update » from Google every 3-4 months. This means that larger Google algorithm updates can occur 4-5 times a year. Some of Google’s biggest algorithm updates so far include Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, RankBrain, Medic, BERT, and more.
How does Google decide when to update the ranking algorithm?
Google focuses on both user signals and webmaster signals when deciding when to update ranking algorithms. Google analyzes user behavior to find out whether or not users are satisfied with the search results. They also monitor what webmasters are doing with their websites. If Google finds that a webmaster is doing something wrong to get their website to the top of Google search results, or users are unhappy with the results, you can expect Google to take action on it.
Google ranking factors
The top three factors that contribute to the Google search engine ranking algorithm include:
- How unique, useful and relevant your content is,
- How complete and engaging are your web pages for the end user, and
- How authority is your website based on backlinks.
Let’s take a closer look at the most important Google ranking factors:
Factors on the page
There are several on-page factors that can influence your website’s ranking on search engine results pages. Here are the metrics that google takes into account when analyzing website content:
1. Is the content unique?
Is the content you posted on your blog or website your original work? Did you add anything new to the topic? There is then a good chance that Google will rank your website higher for relevant search queries.
2. Is your content useful?
Google wants to bring as much value as possible to its users. So, if your content is really useful, you can expect Google to rank your website or blog higher in the search results.
Now the question is, how does Google determine if a piece of content is useful or not?
Google makes the decision based on various user signals. The most important include:
- Do most visitors stay on your website for a long time or return to search results immediately after landing on your website?
- Are visitors clicking internal links and crawling other pages on your website?
- Are visitors actively engaging with your content?
- Is the content really responding to visitors’ requests? Or, is it just stuffed with keywords?
These are all crucial factors that tell Google where to rank a website in search results for a given search query.
3. Does your content cover the topic in depth?
Long content that covers a topic in depth always has a better chance of ranking higher in search results. So if you want to improve your rankings, be sure to post in-depth content.
4. Other factors on the page
Other on-page factors that Google takes into account when deciding which websites to rank in search results when searching include:
- Title tag
- Meta Description
- Click-through rate or CTR
- Page speed
- The general appearance of a website, etc.
Here are the off-page factors that Google takes a close look at when ranking a website in search engine results:
1. Is your website authoritative?
The authority of your website is a major factor that directly contributes to your website ranking.
Does your website have backlinks from authoritative websites? Are these websites relevant to your industry? These are the things that Google takes into account when determining the authority of a website.
2. What is your page authority?
Page authority is another important off-page factor in determining the position of a specific web page in search results. Here’s what Google considers when determining the authority of a particular web page:
- How many inbound links point to this specific web page?
- Are these links from relevant and authoritative websites?
- Does the page link to relevant anchor texts?
3. How authoritative and relevant are your competitor’s websites?
You need to check the backlinks and page content of your competitor’s websites to find out how authoritative and relevant they are.
What makes a page bad according to Google’s algorithm
Here are the things that make pages bad according to Google’s algorithm:
- Pages with a high bounce rate
Suppose a user types their query into the Google search bar and presses Enter. He sees a web page on the search results page and clicks on it to visit the website. Now, if the user returns to the results page immediately after landing on the website, it will be counted as a “bounce”. If a website has a high bounce rate, Google assumes that the page is not providing searchers with what they are looking for and that is why they leave the site dissatisfied. This can have a negative impact on the site’s ranking in search engines.
If your pages are too slow to load, it can negatively impact your Google rankings. Studies show that most people leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. There can be several reasons why a web page takes longer to load. These include large web resources like videos, images, scripts, etc. So if you want better rankings you need to consider optimizing your page load speed.
Ranking factors you can improve to rank better in search results
Here are some of the ranking factors you can improve:
- Content quality
- Your website’s performance
- Back links
- The usability of your website
Below are some of the questions you need to answer first if you want to rank higher in Google search results:
- Does your website look fresh and well organized?
- Is the text easy to read?
- Is the content on the page unique, useful and relevant?
- Are you targeting the right keywords?
Here are some strategies that can help you rank higher on Google:
Step 1: Keyword Optimization
Finding the right keywords and placing them in the right place in your content is important.
Step 2: Competitor analysis
Find out what your competition is doing to rank on Google, then improve your site based on your results.
Step 3: on-page optimization
As mentioned earlier, on-page signals are crucial for Google ranking. Consider making textual and visual improvements to your site to make it more engaging.
Step 4: Creating backlinks
Authority websites always rank higher on Google. And to build authority, you need to get backlinks from authoritative websites. Hope these tips help you get higher positions on Google search results pages. Please see other online resources to learn more about how Google ranks websites.