The goal of a search engine is to provide users with the most relevant answers and information. Every time you input a search query into Google, its algorithm will select the pages that are most appropriate and relevant to you. These pages will be ranked on the search results page in relation to various ranking factors.
Google says its ranking systems are designed to “sort through hundreds of billions of web pages and other content in their search index to present the most relevant, useful results in a fraction of a second.” The algorithm changes regularly, with minor changes happening on a daily basis and larger updates occurring roughly every quarter.
This refers to the meaning of the search query. To return relevant results, Google needs to first establish what the searcher is looking for, or the intent behind the query. Language models will decipher how the words entered match up to the most useful content available. This is made possible due to powerful spelling mistake correction and synonym systems.
Google will assess the relevancy of a page by assessing factors such as its topic, keywords, and content. The most basic of these is if the keywords match the search query – if the keywords in the search query are also present in the page’s headings, title, and content, it is more likely to be relevant.
Analysis of a page’s content is achieved by the use of “aggregated and anonymised interaction data” to establish relevancy. This includes related topics and keywords to the core topic. For example, a page about cats will be deemed more relevant if it also features content regarding different cat breeds alongside pictures and videos of cats.
With the relevant content now identified, the system will then aim to prioritise the websites with the most helpful content. To do this, it identifies the content that “demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness”.
One of the factors used to determine this is if other prominent websites link or refer to your website content. Google deems this as a sign that your content is truthworthy.
The usability of web pages and their content is also considered by Google. This is especially important as if the quality and relevance are equal to other websites, the content more accessible will be prioritised.
Google have a range of page experience factors, such as page loading time and whether or not the content is mobile-friendly.
Information such as your location, past search history, and search settings, will help Google to provide the most contextually relevant results for you. Google use country and location to deliver the content relevant to your area. Likewise, the search activity will help Google provide you with the information you most likely want to see. For example, if you search ‘Chelsea’ after recently searching for ‘Chelsea football scores’, Google will target your results around Chelsea Football Club rather than the area of Chelsea in London.
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