If you’ve ever wondered how to get your website showing up better in the search results then chances are that you’ve at least heard about SEO page algorithms. But what does that term actually mean?
An algorithm is defined as “a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps”.
As far as the search engines are concerned, that problem is to give you a useful set of pages to look at that answer whatever question it was you were asking.
And the finite number of steps means that they need an answer fast. In the case of Google or Bing that means a fraction of a second to deliver you a number of relevant adverts together with quite a few more “organic” search results – the ones that you don’t pay every time someone clicks onto your website.
I’ve deliberately left the quantities of results vague because they vary according to the search and they also vary over time. Usually there are up to three paid for adverts at the top of the search results and probably some more elsewhere on the page. It used to be that there were also 10 regular (unpaid) results but Google are playing around with that at the time of writing and there could well be as few as 7 nowadays.
Going back to the SEO page algorithm, it has to take account of all sorts of factors when it determines the pages to show in the results.
There are lots of unknowns in this process.
Some of them because the precise algorithm is a closely guarded trade secret, otherwise Google’s competitors could just steal their highly researched ideas.
And some because a lot of the time the search engines are clueless about what you’re going to search for next.
It’s that second part of the SEO page algorithm equation that is the most complicated part.
Google have a tightrope to walk: if they want to stay as top dog, they have to give you the best results but for some searches they also have to react with lightning speed.
You expect to find a sports result as soon as the event has finished. So for some searches, the SEO page algorithm is all about how recently the page was created. And they need to crawl round the relevant sites such as the BBC and CNN round the clock to be able to get that result for you as soon as it’s announced.
But they don’t want to show a spammy page in the results that’s only pretending to show the sports result but really wants you to click on an advert or fill your computer with malware.
This means that part of the page algorithm is based on trust. A big, long established site like the BBC will be given a higher trust in their formula than a small, newly established site.
For less time sensitive searches, the search engines can do more homework on your pages. They will assign a series of scores to the page based on a number of different factors.
The SEO page algorithm then attempts to make sense of all the different signals on the almost limitless pages that “might” fit and attempts to find the best possible ones from that bunch. All in the same time it takes you to blink.
What this means is that your job when you’re creating content on your website is to make Google’s job as easy as possible. The more signals it has pointing to you as the best possible result for a given search, the higher you will show up in the search results.
Every extra pointer will be given a score in the SEO page algorithm. The score will vary for each of the potential searches the page could possibly show up for. And the highest scores for that particular search will be shown on the first page of the search results.
Keeping your site’s pages good looking for the search engines as well as human visitors is as much an art as a science but is essential if you’re going to get business from the internet without having to pay every time someone clicks on a link pointing to your site.