More Than Just Your Browser
Google is a tool that so many of us use as a starting point for every search we conduct. But, from the moment your clients type their keywords into that screen or they ask their phone to find the nearest sushi restaurant, there are a series of vital steps going on “behind the scenes”. The top three domains in 2019 with the most site traffic included Google.com with more than 63 billion visits, youtube.com with over 25 billion visits, and facebook.com with more than 21 billion visits. It’s no wonder having a digital presence on these sites makes so much sense. Go where your desired clients are, right?
The art behind a Google search starts long before keywords. With an internet that contains thousands, sometimes even millions of website, apps, social networks or videos that could provide information on a topic, how does Google do it and why should businesses care?
It starts before the search begins with Google’s Search Index. The Search Index is the organization of all information found on the internet. Think of Google as the “mother” of all libraries – 21st century libraries. You can find more than just books in a library. Same goes for Google. The search engine indexes everything happening on the internet and when it comes to local markets, local searches account for 46% of all searches on Google. This is why it’s important to show up well across the web and to make sure your data matches across it.
The Google algorithm, which we break down in greater detail below, helps sort through the data and figure out the best connection according to key words. From the moment your client hits “enter”, within a fraction of a second, the Google Search Algorithms sort through that expansive Search Index and pull the best results to most closely match what they are searching for. Google takes into consideration where they are in the world, what they have previously searched on, and what other people, similar to them search for when looking for a similar term. This translates to targeted connections for businesses when done well and is huge for revenue growth because those spending $1 on ads through Google Search makes $8 on average in profit.
Google is also careful not to only provide standard websites as search result options. Results are provided in a variety of formats from maps, videos, images, and directions, just to mention a few, and this is across mobile, desktop and other devices. That said, in 2019’s second quarter, 69% of Google’s US paid search clicks were on mobile devices, so the rise of mobile isn’t stopping here.
When searching for information on the internet, Google understands the searcher doesn’t want millions of results, listed in no particular order. We want the very best information on the topic searched, right? Insert the Google algorithm – a set of multiple google ranking systems designed to sort through hundreds of billions of webpages in order to find the most useful, relevant results in just a fraction of a second. And to keep us all on our toes, they update it regularly to keep up with the demands and desires of the market.
What Makes up The Google Algorithm?
According to Google, there are a handful of factors that determine what earns a spot at the top of the search query. After reviewing these we think you’ll understand quickly why a great website and strong digital strategy are needed to get seen and convert traffic into dollars.
Meaning of Your Query
First, Google sets out to determine the intent of the search. “What exactly are you looking for?” In order to do this, Google builds various language models to determine what combination of words or “strings” should be looked up within the Search Index.
Google’s understanding of language begins with factors as simple as identifying spelling mistakes and extends to things like an understanding of synonyms. Including synonymous topics allows for results that would yield similar results. Google’s study of all languages is a process that took five years to develop, but is also one that improves search results by about 30%.
Relevance of Web Pages
Next in the Google algorithm formula is a relevance assessment. Is the information relevant to what the searcher is looking for? The first and most obvious question on this test is whether the webpage contains the same keywords entered in the search. If the answer is a resounding “yes”, and those words are found in the headings or body of the text, the page has passed the first round of relevance assessments. When it comes to the length of common Google search queries, according to First Site Guide, two words account for the most common length of a query and here’s the breakdown:
Google Search Query by Length:
1 Word = 21.71%
2 Words = 23.98%
3 Words = 19.60%
4 Words = 13.89%
5 Words = 8.70%
6 Words and more = 12.12%
Beyond keywords, Google also looks for whether a page might contain an answer or additional information that reaches beyond the initial question searched for. For example, if searching for an individual keyword like “baseball”, Google does its best to provide a variety of results in a variety of formats – baseball stadiums, teams, players, the history of baseball, photos, videos, and so on. Google is also quick to mention that while it does take a variety of factors into account when determining a page’s relevance, two factors that are never considered are a page’s viewpoint or political stance. Thanks Google!
Quality of Content
If a webpage passes the relevance test, the next key factor that is analyzed is the quality. In other words, is the source of the information reliable? In order to determine this, there is a set of criteria set up within the Search Index to identify sources that are reliable and trustworthy.
The first thing Google does is look for websites that users tend to value for information on similar search queries. Also, if other reliable sites have linked to the source, it is a second sign that the page contains quality content.
So, what is in places to help weed out poor content? Spam algorithms and other filters are in place to prevent low-quality content from rising in the search rankings. This prevents sites from appearing in search results through the use of sketchy or manipulative behavior. Google is consistently evaluating and assessing its quality content algorithm to be sure the searcher receive only the best results to their queries.
Usability of Web Pages
Another algorithm factor is usability. How easy is the website to use and navigate? Some of the questions Google uses to identify quality usability are:
- Does the site appear correctly in all web browsers?
- Is the site designed for all device types and sizes (smartphones, desktops, and tablets)?
- Does the page loading time work well, even for those with slow Internet connections?
To remain fair on the criteria uses to evaluate sites, Google always informs site owners of new policies and updates to the algorithm, typically months before those changes go live. As you can tell, the website really does matter and advertising agencies get this and are well suited to help with your custom digital strategy.
There are other settings and criteria that could play an important role in the results one might yield from a particular search. For example, the location, search history, or settings could all have an impact on the pages that show up when one hits that magic “Google Search” button.
Why does location matter? Well, if Google knows the searcher is in the Denver area and they search for “baseball”, they will likely see results pertaining to the Colorado Rockies and Coors Field rather than general information about all teams in the MLB.
The search history could help Google understand what they’re looking for by giving the search engine some important clues. If someone searches “Washington” for example and they’ve previously searched for “Washington versus Philadelphia”, Google might understand they are thinking about sports teams or Washington, DC rather than the state of Washington. In other words, the more someone searches, the more brilliant the Google algorithm becomes and the better your results.
What settings might play a role? Well, if the searcher has selected a specific language or have opted in to SafeSearch, they will only see results in that language and any pages with explicit content will certainly be removed.
With every search, every new web page, and every day that passes, the Google algorithm is evolving, growing, and improving. It’s a rigorous process with thousands of Search Quality Raters from around the world. They are trusted with the sole task of upholding Google’s promise and ensuring only the best results for users of the world-wide-web. Have more questions about Google search? Reach out to one of our team members, we’re are always happy help because we love digital advertising!