A brief history of Google search algorithms

Confused by algorithms? Who wouldn’t be, considering that Google changes its search algorithms hundreds of times each year. The point of these pesky formulas, however, is not as hard to grasp if you understand why they exist in the first place.

Google bases its search results on PageRank, its original algorithm dating back to the 1990s. PageRank was created to establish a hierarchy that would rank websites in search engine results according to importance and popularity. Generally, it does so by taking into account both the quantity and quality of links to a given page. Your website may not have received thousands of visitors, but if it’s the only online source of expert information on a given topic, it could still rank higher than a spammy page that has been viewed more times.

Many other factors determine the ranking of search results on Google. Take a look at the top three  and what they mean for marketers:

1. Google algorithm for SEO: The rules regarding where and how many links to build into a website are forever in flux. The trick is to get other people to link back to your site. As Search Engine Land explained, Google doesn’t want you to be able to vote for yourself. To entice others to do so, create videos, infographics and detailed blog posts – all commonly shared types of content.

2. Doorway pages: Google may begin taking algorithmic action on extra doorway pages – multiple domains or pages within a website that lead to the same destination. According to Search Engine Land, marketers can prepare for the imminent ranking adjustment by eliminating pages that commit the following faux pas:

  • Attempt to rank on generic terms despite very specific page content
  • Contain duplicate aggregations of product descriptions and other items to boost search traffic
  • Exist merely to draw affiliate traffic or are difficult to navigate to and from other parts of a site

3. Panda 4.1: A recent iteration of this algorithm was designed to target websites with content that is thin, duplicate, machine-generated or of otherwise low quality. The purpose is to boost a diversity of smaller but high-quality websites.

As a result, content marketers may be able to create higher-ranking websites by focusing on niche sites. Marketing Land reported that sites that focus on a specific type of content came out on top in an early analysis of Panda 4.1 – even higher than popular sites like Answers.com.

As a rule, be sure each page is an integral part of your site’s user experience. Then you won’t have to adjust for the next flood of algorithmic tweaks heading down the pike.

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