Google is always learning.
People use search engines to find what they need on the web. Search engines are always trying to grow and provide a better user experience. Because the web is massive, search engine providers like Google, Bing and Yahoo use a number of ways to collect and use data to determine what users find valuable.
As search engines change and evolve, the way they see your website changes. There are a number of ways to optimize a website to appear within search engine results more favorably. Search Engine Optimization (often shortened to SEO) is, putting it simply, making sure your website works well within the “rules of a good web page” that Google currently is using. Making sure your site plays nicely within the paradigm of search engines nets you improved search rankings. This means more potential views from customers and readers.
Google and other search engine providers use a number of tools to collect data and determine what is relevant to any given search query. Data is collected from websites via Google bots, which “crawl” websites. These programs read pages and determine what they’re about based on the content that they find. Things like keywords in a page’s URL, the content, and hidden page metadata describing what it’s about are all collected.
After collecting data from a page’s content, both hidden and visible, the bot will follow any links to other sites and pages on the web. What theses sites are about, and the words used to describe the links (called anchor text) give more context to understanding what a page is about. Links about similar topics lend strength and trust, but links about vastly different topics can sometimes be harmful.
In addition to data collected from bots crawling the web, more information is taken from click-throughs on search result pages and links from Google affiliates like YouTube. More traffic flowing to a page generally indicates better content. The flip side of this is that better-seeming page are generally placed higher in search engine results, allowing them to easily gain more traffic.
Metrics like “time spent on page” and how often links are clicked are also gathered by search engine providers. Pushing buttons, filling out web forms, watching videos are all signs of engagement. Essentially, if you’re spending time doing something on a page, it’s viewed as likely to be more important than a page you click to and then exit out of a few seconds later.
All of this information, and more, is then run through algorithms to give the best possible result for a search. If you want your website to be found online, it needs to be optimized to work with search engines. Hopefully this overview helps to give you a better understanding of how SEO works. For more information, check out our other blog posts, our SEO Page, or contact us now.