What Is The Google Algorithm?
This brings us to the second part of this SEO basics guide, which is Google’s ranking algorithm.
Google has hundreds of ranking signals and they make tweaks to their algorithm 500 to 600 times per year.
Now to be frank, no one knows exactly how their algorithm works, but they’ve given us clues and some guidelines to better understand the factors that are most important.
In addition, SEO companies like us are always doing studies to test and better understand these SEO factors.
Don’t worry, we won’t bore you with all the ranking signals we are aware of, but we will cover a few of the most important SEO factors that you’ll need to understand from a fundamental standpoint.
First are backlinks, which are links from a page on one website to another.
And Google has said that if other prominent websites link to a page, that’s a good sign that information is to be trusted.
The easiest way to understand the value of a backlink is to think of them as votes. When a page receives a backlink, it’s essentially another website vouching for the content on the page.
And the more “votes,” you get from credible sources, the higher the trust.
We also studied the effect of backlinks on search traffic and found a clear positive link between backlinks from unique websites and a page’s organic traffic.
Second is search intent, which represents the reason behind a searcher’s query.
If you think of Google’s goal for search, It’s to return the most relevant results for any given query to it’s users.
So with that said, you can discover search intent simply by looking at the top ranking pages for the query you want to rank for.
For example, if you search for “waffle maker recipes” you’ll see that the search results are mostly sites with a list of slow cooker recipes.
So if you try and rank a product page where you’re selling a waffle maker, you won’t be matching search intent and therefore, you won’t rank.
Now, if we change the query to just “waffle maker,” you’ll now see that the pages are mainly eCommerce pages.
So if you try and rank your blog post of waffle maker recipes, then you probably won’t rank, because you’re not matching search intent.
This is a critical SEO basics concept to understand and I’ll share a simple 3-step checklist you can use to determine search intent for any query in Part 2.
And third is content depth. Search engines are made up of computer programs, so they can’t actually read and understand text like you and I would.
Nevertheless, Google has poured billions into creating sophisticated technology that understands content to a certain degree, but it’s your job as a content creator to provide context about the subject.
For example, if you look at the top-ranking pages for the query “how to drive a car”, you’ll find that they talk about things like fastening your seatbelt, familiarising yourself with the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals, adjusting your seat and mirrors, and other things that a first-time driver may not know.
Basically, you want to be able to answer the searcher’s query the best that you possibly can, and it should naturally lead to content that has depth.
Now, it’s important to note that depth doesn’t always translate to length. For example, a topic like “how to turn off galaxy s21” doesn’t need to and shouldn’t be too long.
In fact, the top-ranking page for this search enquiry is only 172 words, but the content solves the user’s query from start to finish.
So that’s some SEO basics to get you started. In Part 2, we’ll look at What are keywords in SEO? and why it’s crucial to get them right.
Catch you in the next post.