Short Answer: In the ever changing world of SEO, Google page rankings are updated continuously. As such, there is no single answer as to how Google determines the ranking of a website. With more than two hundred variables assessed by Google algorithms, the key recurring factors include keyword usage, content, site structure, inbound linking and social media engagement.
What Key Variables Does Google Use In Its Algorithm?
SEO specialists around the world are constantly researching which variables are the most important when it comes to Google page rank. As Google algorithms evolve on a daily basis, this task becomes increasingly challenging in the SEO industry.
At last count, Google feeds eight algorithms into search results. They each have their own name and perform a unique function to deliver the best possible results to researchers. The algorithms are known as Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Payday, Pirate, EMD (Exact Match Domain) and Top Heavy.
Hundreds of variables factor into how Google ranks complex search results. Some of the most influential factors in determining page rank include:
- Keyword usage
- Frequency and placement of main keywords targeted on a page. Can range from in the page title, headings, or page content. Where keyword usage influences relevance of a page to search terms, it should not be overloaded with keywords.
- Content length
- Longer, more detailed content can cover a greater breadth of topics and answer more questions that your customers might have. Short, superficial paragraphs should be avoided where possible.
- Site structure
- Internal links and site structure determine the ease of navigation of a website. Just think – if it is easy to navigate as an engaged user, it will also be easy for Google to navigate and therefore rank.
- Inbound links
- Quantity and, more importantly, the quality of external links that point to a website establishes the authority of a website. Simply put, more authoritative pages are more likely to get rankings. Ranking strength is more heavily influenced by links from other websites that already have established authority in Google’s eyes.
- Title tags
- Related to keyword usage, page titles should be optimised with relevant keyword friendly terms.
- Image optimisation
- All pictures and videos on a website should have corresponding tags and titles to ensure that Google deems them appropriate in determining overall page quality score.
Google’s algorithms are updated on a regular basis, combining authority and relevance. I have explored a handful of the variables that Google considers in delivering search results.
Pages that are both engaging and relevant will achieve the highest rankings. However, rankings are always determined completely by complex algorithms and not by human selection. Therefore, being proactive and doing more than your competitors is a key to staying ahead of the game and achieving better search rankings.
Next time you’re searching on Google, ask yourself: “Does the top result really provide the answer to my query?” In most cases, it will be a resounding yes.