Now that your website is crawled and indexed, Google needs to decide which results best match a given search query. This happens in a process called ranking, where indexed results are ordered from most-relevant to least relevant by Googlebot’s algorithms. These algorithms adjust and improve daily, so what gets ranked one day might not the next.
Why is Googlebot’s Algorithm Constantly Changing?
These algorithms weren’t always this complicated. Back at the dawn of the internet, people would do what is called “keyword stuffing”, which was when keywords (important search terms) were repeated as many times as possible, because at the time repetition of keywords was the best way to rank higher and trick the search engines. Today, this practice is frowned upon and is even in violation of search engines’ guidelines
The internet isn’t static, so search results shouldn’t be either. If Googlebot never changed its algorithm, new websites might never get ranked. Websites are constantly updating, tweaking, and adding things to their websites, and Googlebot needs to adjust to accommodate those changes. Despite changing their algorithms, Googlebot (and other search engines) will always want the same thing: to provide useful answers to users in the most helpful formats.
There are two categories of things that Googlebot’s algorithm always looks at when crawling. These two categories lend themselves differently to the algorithm, but both help determine how your URL ranks.
The Role of Links
There are two different types of links to your website. A backlink, or an inbound-link, is a link that takes you to your site from a different site. As an example, if you have your website linked on your Facebook page, that would be an inbound-link. These links are very important, as they instill trust. Think of it like a recommendation. If someone is talking about your website, people will be more willing to trust you, which will translate to sales. The second type of link to your website is an internal link. This type of link is the navigation through your site, and how you get from one page to another. These links don’t necessarily instill trust, but the easier your site is to navigate, the more likely you are to get people to continue to use your site.
The Role of Content
Your content is the bread and butter of your website. Whether it be videos, images, PDFs, or paragraphs of text, if it can be consumed by users it qualifies as content. Quality content is important, as Google looks to see how well your content matches a user’s query. There are no restrictions on the length of your content, but remember quality over quantity. If your blog posts are so stuffed with keywords, the message gets lost. Remember, there are many sites that have similar information to yours. Why is your site different?
Never Stop Changing
If Google’s ranking algorithm is always changing, shouldn’t your website? You don’t have to do a major overhaul every week, but adding blog posts, updating a gallery, or changing the home page’s picture will have Google re-rank your page(s). This will also show users that you care about your website, and they’ll spend more time clicking through links, which can boost your rankings. There’s a lot to learn, and it may seem like it never ends, but getting it right now will help your website start off on the right foot.
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