If your website is not appearing on the first page of Google search results, you may be scratching your head trying to figure out how Google rankings work. In this blog, we will cover the basics of the Google search engine. But first, let’s make sure we are on the same page about Google rankings. To put it simply, rankings refer to how high a website ranks in the Google search results.
Why Does Google Have a Ranking System for Web Pages?
According to Google, Google’s ranking systems are designed to help people sort through a large amount of information available on the web regarding a particular search query. Finding what you need would be nearly impossible without Google’s help. Google indexes hundreds of billions of webpages to find the most relevant and useful results in a fraction of a second. Then, it presents you with the best results.
What Factors Affect Your Rankings?
Google’s systems are made up of a series of algorithms. To give you the most useful information, the algorithms look at many factors, including keywords, relevance, the usability of pages, the expertise of sources, and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query—for example, the date content was published plays a bigger role for queries about current events than it does for dictionary definitions.
Google explains how this works with an example of a person searching for lasagna.
Once the person enters the search query ‘lasagna’ Google searches through all the indexes that they have mapped for the keyword ‘lasagna’, same as we search for a book in a library through an index. There are more than 50 million web pages for the word ‘lasagna’. Those pages contain all information related to Lasagna such as the history of lasagna, articles from scientists whose last name is Lasagna, etc. But when you are hungry, randomly clicking through links until you find a restaurant that has lasagna is painful. This is where Google’s ranking system comes into play. Although Google uses hundreds of factors to create their algorithms, the following are the most important factors.
Google wants things to be user-friendly. That means a person should be able to obtain the information they are looking for quickly and easily. Therefore, keywords should be used in important places on your website such as page titles, image captions, URLs, etc.
The Quality of Your Backlinks
This is similar to a company that asks job candidates to include references in their resumes to show they are trustworthy. Google evaluates the trustworthiness of a website through backlinks from other websites. As with our resume example, the credibility of the references matters. If you have a backlink from a high-quality site, Google notices and trusts your site. This also means that websites that get traffic from spam websites will be penalized.
The location of the person who searches for your site matters. Location is part of the user experience. Let’s go back to our lasagna example. If someone searches for lasagna in San Francisco, they will not want to see lasagna restaurants in New York as the first result.
How Up to Date Your Website is
Most of the time, a person wants to have the latest and greatest information, so Google highly values how current your content is. Therefore, the frequency at which you upload content is a determining factor in your rankings.
As you can see, these factors are also similar to the factors which contribute to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). All the information discussed above that contribute to Google’s algorithm has an impact on SEO as well. To learn more about SEO, read our blog of Top 10 SEO Tips.
Keep in mind that Google makes money by having the biggest search engine in the world, so they want to have a loyal customer base of internet users. In order to accomplish this, they make sure their customers are fully satisfied with their services by providing them the most relevant and accurate information, quickly and easily. Therefore, look at your website from Google’s point of view and your customer’s point of view. Then you can understand exactly what you should do to increase your website’s Google ranking.