How do Google’s Algorithms Determine Rank?

How Does Google Determine Quality?

Google’s algorithms use a handful of techniques such as natural language processing, page segmentation, user behavior, inbound links, machine learning, and other things; to make assumptions about the quality of content and links. Most of the time these assumptions are spot on, but it’s possible to find a great piece of content ranking very low, simply because Google is making the wrong assumption about it.

Drop in Rankings, What’s Going On?

When a page or domain loses substantial rankings or organic traffic there are typically two possible reasons: an algorithmic change has occurred or a manual penalty has been applied.
Algorithmic changes in the rankings are constantly happening. 9 times out of 10, changes to a page’s rankings are a result of an algorithmic change. The point of having algorithms is so Google can better manage the billions of web pages in its index without manual oversight.
However, sometimes manual oversight is needed when a web site is in violation of Google’s guidelines. In this case Google will override its algorithm and apply a rankings decrease. Usually, Google will then notify the web master through Google Webmaster Tools informing them of the change and why it occurred. If a web master has never violated Google’s guidelines there should be no reason for Google to apply a penalty.

Is There a Secret to Getting High Rankings?

Google reportedly uses hundreds of different ranking factors, each with varying significance on an individual basis. This is why having a firm understanding in the fundamentals of SEO, and applying that to a much larger marketing agenda is so important.

Are Links Still Important?

The importance of links is slowly becoming less relevant. With the future of social media paving the way for new ranking metrics links could take a “back seat” in the future. Smart SEOs are advising clients to start to mix their link building efforts with social engagement, branding, and other traditional marketing strategies.

Dynamic Algorithms

Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. There are regular announcements regarding updates.  Small changes are also taking place on a regular basis. Sometimes, the algorithms are applied differently for different scenarios. For example, maybe the Panda and Penguin filter is applied more aggressively to certain verticals. Perhaps the algorithm is applied differently to certain types of queries, such as brand names. The algorithm is constantly changing and is often indefinable. Analysis is so important when trying to understand how and why a site is ranking the way it is.