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Google's Algorithms

The phrase ‘Google algorithm’ should be very familiar to anyone who has spent any time dealing with search engine optimization (SEO). While many websites spend huge sums of money and countless hours on trying to rank well on Google, most have no idea what an algorithm is, or what it does.

At a basic level, if you want your computer to do something, a program must be written. These programs are step-by-step instructions for the computer. An algorithm is the unique process of how you reach your end goal. Each algorithm may offer a different method, but each reaches the same conclusion.

To help you get your head around it, here are some examples of real-world algorithms:

Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party tonight, but you haven’t got anything prepared. Fear not! Choose an algorithm and you’ll be well on your way to wining and dining your guests. Remember, algorithms offer varying methods of attack, but each reaches the same end conclusion.

Home-cooked meal algorithm:

  1. Get to the shop, buy your ingredients
  2. Go home and get cooking
  3. Have dinner on the table by 6:00pm

Take-away algorithm:

  1. Pick a restaurant and order food
  2. Collect food and get back home
  3. Have dinner on the table by 6:00pm

Delivery boy algorithm:

  1. Call your favourite restaurant
  2. Open some vino while you wait and then accept delivery
  3. Have dinner on the table by 6:00pm

Here, although different, each set of instructions leads to the same outcome. Search engine algorithms work in a similar way; they use different techniques to achieve the same goal. Each algorithm has its own pros and cons, and search engines are constantly searching for the best combination of results.

What does this mean for businesses?

Online business owners need to understand the search engine algorithms in order to properly optimise their sites for the highest possible rankings.

In the past, Google’s algorithms sorted search queries by keyword, or keyword phrase. Today, Google has moved toward perfecting its search processes by sorting websites and online data by importance and relevancy.

Websites using old, out-dated methods for SEO will quickly become isolated. It is a harsh reality that Google’s algorithms can be detrimental to a website’s SEO campaign- you really need to be in the know to succeed in climbing the search engine ranks.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Google continuously churn out algorithm updates, but Hummingbird, which was introduced in autumn 2013, was one of the largest updates of the decade and has been estimated to affect 90% of all search queries.

To better support the search engine user, Hummingbird was designed to work with a more conversational tone. Previously, users would enter a keyword into the search engine and this would be sorted in Google’s enormous database to bring forward the most relevant sites. Today, if you were to type in the same keyword you would probably get a whole new list of results.

People aren’t just using keywords anymore- they’re asking questions. Hummingbird tries to pick these questions apart and gives you what it thinks is the best answer for YOU. If you were to ask Google “What is the best restaurant in Chester?”, Google may come back to you asking whether you’re interested in ‘best prices’, ‘highest rating’ or ‘closest to your current location’. This is done to fully understand the context of your question to bring you the best possible results.

SEO Strategy

As people change the way they search for information, Google changes the ways it delivers results; in turn you need to change your SEO strategy in order to be more likely to be seen online. There are many factors which effect SEO, but at the top of the list if content- If you read this blog regularly like you should, you will be familiar with me going on about the importance of fresh, engaging content. I go on about it so much because it really makes a difference to how your site is perceived, not only by potential customers but also by search engines.

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