Not a Magical Wizard. We Promise.
We get asked "how does Google rank my website?" a lot, and it’s completely understandable because on the surface it seems like Google is a magical wizard with supreme powers.
It’s really not, and the whole process is fairly easy to comprehend.
The sign of a successful website often depends on where it ranks in search engines. For this reason SEO is important to you as a website owner. In this post I’ll give an overview of how Google ranks your website so you’re able to begin the search engine optimization process.
NOTE: It’s important to remember that Google does not actually rank websites. What they do rank is individual web pages.
Before the Ranking
Let’s start off by covering Google’s process before ranking even happens. Google uses ‘web crawlers’ to go from link to link collecting information from web pages. These crawlers are constantly working since more and more information is being added to the internet each day. Luckily they’re robots, so they don’t get tired. At least until the day when they rise up against us, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
The web crawlers then take all of this information and add it to an index, much like the kind at the end of a book, except much, much, much larger. This process is called indexing. When someone performs a search Google refers to this index to find the best results depending on the keywords used.
Google uses an algorithm (a step-by-step process used by computers) to determine where your web page best fits depending on the search query. The algorithm, referred to as Hummingbird, uses more than 200 signals to make this decision. Nobody knows exactly what all the signals are and how important each is to the process besides Google, and I imagine they have a pretty good non-disclosure agreement.
Luckily though, Google has confirmed the top ranking signals for their algorithm: Content, Links to the page, and RankBrain. What’s RankBrain, right? That’s a great question and one that no one really knows for sure. In a future post when I dive into the pieces of the overall algorithm I’ll touch on RankBrain and its possible use, but that’s too complicated to do here.
Let’s Put This Into Practice
If you’re searching for “best tacos in Akron” the algorithm is going to sort through all of the information in the index the web crawlers have collected to determine the best results. Luckily, Google doesn’t just select the pages that mention ‘best tacos in Akron’ the most, they look for the most useful pages determined by whether the page has images or videos, how many ads are on the page, what the load speed is, is it relevant, and many more signals. Everything comes together in less than a second to provide you with the best tacos in Akron.
Honestly, you could have just asked me instead: it’s La Loma. Or is it Rancheros Taqueria? I clearly have some soul searching to do.
There is a lot that goes into ranking and having your site rank well, but knowing how the process works is fairly easy… and knowing is half the battle.