How Does Search Work?
I get it; SEO is not an easy thing to understand. There are over 1 billion websites and over 60 trillion web pages, and these numbers are consistently growing. There are tons of questions, and maybe you never seem to get an answer you fully understand. Google does a decent job of explaining this with their story How Search Works.
The thing that makes search complicated is Google’s Algorithm. What is Google’s algorithm, and what does it do? Well, Google crawls the trillion plus webpages, follows links from page to page, and then it records all the information in its index. Google has written formulas and programs that sort information within the index to bring you the best and most relevant information regarding what you typed. Whatever you type into the search bar is analyzed, information is then pulled from the index, sorted, ranked, and then results are listed. Results take various forms as well. There is the 3 – 4 pack, ads, organic listings, images and so on. There are so many different factors that are included in the algorithm, and Google doesn’t let anyone know exactly what the algorithm contains. There are things that Google lists are factors, such as content value, consistency, ratings, site quality, usability and user context.
One of the main factors that we focus on for our auto repair shop sites is location. Whether you want Google to incorporate location in your search results or not, it will. Google relies heavily on location. This means that what you search will yield results that are in your close proximity. When searching for auto repair, this is helpful to smaller auto repair shops because it gives them the chance to beat out national brands. This is especially true when people are searching on their mobile devices. As we explained last month, Google will give preference to websites that are mobile ready. More than 50% of searches performed on Google happen on mobile devices, so your website needs to be functional at all sizes and bandwidths.
Google is constantly testing and changing its algorithm. In fact, on average, they change or update the algorithm around 500 – 600 times a year. Check out Moz’s webpage that goes over the Google Algorithm Change History. All of this just barely scratches the surface. Most of the updates and changes are minor, but there have been serious updates such as Panda and Penguin. In summary, keep in mind the factors explained above are not the only factors that affect the search results. It is a Search Engine Optimizer’s job to stay ahead of the curve and informed on what Google expects and wants to see. What used to work may not work now, and what works now may not work in the future. If you are thinking your site could use a little SEO, have a conversation with your Account Manager and see if SEO will benefit your website.