SEO: Understanding how Google’s ranking works

Search engine optimization (SEO) is by far the trickiest part of Inbound Marketing. As an entrepreneur or a startup owner, you might not always be on point with SEO trends.  You might know nothing about it. That’s why I decided to write a series of posts about SEO. My goal is not to make you a SEO specialist. It is simply to show you that even without too much experience in that field, there are a couple of things you can do to make your site rank better. 

But let’s start from the beginning. SEO is particularly important because every second, 63,000 searches are done on Google. On these searches, more than 37% of users click on the first organic link, and 28% on the second one. That’s why you want to rank as high as possible. Of course, you want to rank only for keywords that are related to your business. But we will come back to that in another blog post. 

First, I want to explain how Google’s algorithms work to rank the different websites. The algorithms are really complicated, and they are often updated. Yet, understanding the principles behind them is easy. Also, it can help you understand how SEO works. 

How Google’s ranking works

Every time you search on Google, its ranking systems sort billions of web pages to find you the most relevant and useful results. That’s done in less than a second. Incredible right? To summarize the process, the ranking system reviews 5 different aspects. I have listed them, and I tried to summarize them in the easiest way possible.

1. The choice of words

After a search is done, Google tries to understand what the user is looking for. It looks for spelling mistakes, synonyms, etc. It also scans for keywords to understand the category of information needed. For example, is the user looking to buy shoes? Is he looking for pictures, reviews, opening hours, videos? Does he want a recent result like the score of the game last night, or does it not matter when the article was posted?

2. The relevance of the web pages

Once Google understands what the user is looking for, it tries to find the most relevant pages to show. They do that by paying particular attention to the keywords used in the search. They analyze the pages to check if they contain the same keywords that were used in the search. Google will also make an overview of the content of the page. They look at the pictures, videos, lists, etc. and search for a connection between those and the keywords used. 

3. The reliability of the web pages

After evaluating and ranking the pages based on their relevance, Google determines which of them are the most reliable sources. They do that by analyzing the number of links leading to the pages from other websites. Each of these links is considered to be a reference from another website. In other words, the more websites link to your pages, the more Google considers your pages to be trustworthy! 

Google also inspects the pages with its SPAM algorithms to ensure that you are not trying to cheat the ranking. So always avoid bad SEO techniques like buying fake links.

4. The quality of the pages

Google then evaluates the quality of the pages. They assess if the pages are mobile-friendly and available in all major browsers. They also inspect the loading time of the pages. If it’s too long, you might drop a couple of positions. Basically, they’ll make sure that the pages they promote are worthy. 

5. The location and settings of the user

Finally, Google will also inspect the location of the user, their search history and their settings. They’ll do that to make sure that they meet the needs of the user. For example, if the user’s browser is in French, and he lives in Canada, then French-Canadian web pages will have an advantage.  

Search engines like Google want a great user experience for their users. Thus, they’ll reward websites that create content that is rank-worthy. That’s where the big majority of your SEO efforts should go; Creating valuable content on your website.

By knowing your target group, and by creating content that fits their needs, you’ll be halfway there. Of course, there are other efforts you should be doing, like optimizing your website from an SEO perspective, and link building. Yet, that wouldn’t work if you don’t have great content on your website first.

That’s it for this post, but new SEO posts will be coming soon. Follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn to be sure not to miss them!

One Reply to “SEO: Understanding how Google’s ranking works”

  1. Thank you for a really well written and research article! Your approach toward structuring it and presenting in in a list format full of visuals made it an easy to read and informative find. Keep up the great work!


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