How does the Google Algorithm Work?

Google’s search algorithm is one of the most important technologies ever made. 5.6 billion Google searches are made every day, so it’s safe to say Google has a big impact on the world and on your business as well.


But what is the Google Search Algorithm, and how does it work? And, most importantly, how can you get more people to come to your site regardless of it.


This guide tries to make sense of the mysterious Google Search Algorithm trying to answer common questions such as;

  • What is the Google algorithm for search?
  • How does the Google Search Algorithm go about its business?
  • When people search for things on Google, what are the things that make them show up?
  • A note about changes to Google’s algorithm.
  • Where can you find Google’s official news?


People talk about the Google Search Algorithm when they talk about how Google ranks things. Many factors are taken into account when it comes to ranking a website. These include keywords, usability, and backlinks.


SIDENOTE. Google has a LOT of different search algorithms that work together to give the best results. People talk about Google’s search algorithm a lot when they talk about its ranking algorithm, and we think that’s what most people mean when they say that.

How does the Google Search Algorithm go about its business?

Google’s algorithm is very complicated, and it’s not clear how it works. It’s thought that there are more than 200 factors that go into how a website is ranked, but no one knows them all.


There is always a new algorithm, so even if they do, it doesn’t matter. Google usually makes changes to its algorithm six times a day. Up to 2,000 times per year.


Google, on the other hand, does give some tips on how to do well in its search. You’ve just got to stay with your finger on the pulse!

When people search for things on Google, what are the things that make them show up?

What comes to mind when you think of a “search algorithm” when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO)? In other words, how does Google decide which pages to rank and in which order?


If we look at Google’s “How Search Works” page, we can see some of Google’s most important ranking factors:


  • Backlinks
  • Freshness
  • When someone talks about a certain word,
  • A user’s experience
  • Subject matter experts

Let’s break these thing down a bit…

First, there are back links.

Google wants to show pages where “well-known websites on the subject” link to the page. In simple terms, it wants to see backlinks from well-known websites that are also relevant to your topic.


Link building is what you do to get these links, and it’s one of the most important things you can do to get Google to trust and show your site. This has always been the most important thing for Google to look at when deciding whether or not a site is trustworthy.


The backlink profile of your page and the backlink profile of your competitors can help you figure out if links are keeping your content from getting more traffic.


The first thing you need to do is enter the URL of the page you want to rank into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. You’ll see how many backlinks and referring domains (websites that link to your page) it has. If you visit the site explorer you can see a demo on how it works.


Once you’ve done that, go to Ahref’s Keyword Explorer and enter the main keyword you want to rank for on that page into the search box. Then, scroll down. You’ll find the SERP overview section, where you can see how many backlinks and referring domains your competitors have. You can also see how many backlinks and referring domains your own site has.


The more backlinks that your competitors’ pages have, the more likely it is that you need to focus on getting more links to rank above them.


Here are some ways to start building links:

  • Guest posting.
  • Making things that can be linked to (“linkable assets”)
  • Links that don’t work (AKA “broken link building”)




In order to learn more about the backlink landscape of your keywords and what kind of links you need to rank, look at what domains your competitors have that you don’t. This will help you figure out what kind of links you need in order to rank. In Ahrefs, type in the top three competitors for your target keyword into its Link Intersect tool, and your page into the “But doesn’t link to” box.


In the “Show link opportunities” box, hit “Show link opportunities.” You’ll see all the sites that link to other pages but not yours. These are the first places you can try to get links from.

Expertise in the field (AKA “Topical Authority”)


If a lot of people like a site for a certain type of search, Google wants to show it. Those are the sites that have more, important information about queries that are related to the one being looked for.


People “seem to value” backlinks, but Google doesn’t say what it means. We’re safe to say that topical backlinks are a part of it. So in addition to writing a lot of related content, you also need to get links from sites that are relevant to your topic.


Suppose you want to rank for “best protein powder.” If people also come to your site for content on topics like the following, Google may be more likely to rank you for it!


  • Best time of day to eat protein
  • Is it OK for pregnant women to have protein powder?
  • How is protein powder made?
  • What are the benefits of protein powder


In addition to having content on these topics, you should also try to get backlinks to the content that are relevant to them.


Google and its users may think you’re an expert on the subject if you write a lot of related content and link to other content that’s relevant to the subject. This could help you get more traffic from search engines. There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to how your site is going to be ranked.

Fresh is best!

“Content freshness” refers to how “fresh,” or up-to-date,” the content on your site is. When did it last get updated?


This factor is more important for some queries than others. Search engines like Google usually put results that have been published in the last 24 hours at the top of the list when people search for news.


It doesn’t matter if you search for a topic that doesn’t need to be updated very often, though. Things like “storage units”


The reason for this is that good storage unit needs today are a lot like they were two years ago. So it doesn’t make as much of a difference how recently it was written or how old it is. If you write a guide like this one you’re currently reading, it is called “evergreen content.” That is, content that won’t need to be changed very often, or for a long time.


When you’re trying to figure out how important freshness is for the keywords you want to target, you should always look at the SERPs for that keyword. Is Google seemingly giving more weight to new content? If so, you’ll need to keep the piece up-to-date to have any chance of staying at the top.


When someone mentions a certain word (“keyword mentions”)


It’s one of the things Google looks at: “the number of times your search terms show up on the page you want to rank.”


If you can, try to use your exact keyword several times on the page, including in places like:


  • The page name/title.
  • Subheadings -you must have at least one of them.
  • The page’s web address, its URL
  • The first paragraph.


However, I don’t think you need to worry about keywords after that. This is because you’ll naturally use the keyword you’re trying to rank for in your content as you write about it.


The words “evergreen content” appears many times in my post on evergreen content even though I didn’t do anything to make this happen. It just…comes out in natural “conversation”.


Instead, pay more attention to making sure your page meets the searcher’s needs and answers their question. In other words, make sure that you’ve covered everything that searchers might want to know about your site.


In its “How Search Works” page, Google emphasises how important this is. This is why…


A lot of people don’t want a page with the word “dogs” all over it. That’s why, when algorithms look at a page, they look for other things that are related to the word “dogs,” like pictures of dogs, videos, or even a list of dog breeds.


To do that, you can use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool to find subtopics of a given keyword that you should talk about on your page. Click “Content Gap” on the left. Plug your site into Site Explorer, then click “Content Gap.”


Next, go to Google and search for the keyword you want to target with your page. Pull the top three to five URLs that match the goal of your page (e.g., if your page is a blog post, choose other blog posts).


So that you can see what keywords are used by your competitors, plug in their URL(s)…. Then, click “Show keywords.”


Plus, when you do this kind of content gap research, you might also come up with ideas for new articles that are related to the one you’re working on.

The user experience


Whether the page has a good user experience is what Google says it is interested in. But what makes for a good user experience?


There are a lot of things that make up user experience (UX), like the following:


  • The speed at which a page loads (Google recommends under two seconds)
  • Interstitials like ads or pop-ups aren’t taking over the screen
  • Internal links and navigation that are easy to use
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • The design of the site itself
  • Having a meta title and description that match search intent (meta tags etc)
  • And so on…


Speed has become more important to Google in the last few years. In the summer of 2021, Google made a big change. CWV (Core Web Vitals) is a kind of speed test that Google has made more important.


Using Ahrefs’ Site Audit, plug your site in, and then click on the “Performance Report” tab. You can check your CWV and learn how to improve your site’s performance. CWV scan must be turned on in the setting. At the top of the report, you’ll see a note about this.



Make sure CWV can use the Google API. Then run another scan of your site. When it’s done, you’ll get a report that shows which pages need work and which pages have mistakes.


When you click on the number next to “Needs improvement” or “Poor,” you can see those pages. There is a tool that will show you which pages don’t meet the Lighthouse Score or the CrUX performance. These are page speed scores from the CWV report.


If you want to learn more about how to make your site better for users, contact me for a more in-depth chat

A note about changes to Google's algorithm.

Google changes its algorithm almost every day, and it releases major updates two to three times a year that can have a big impact on how well your site is ranked.


Things change. If you don’t know what Google is looking for when it comes to ranking your site, you might not be able to get on the first page of the search results and could even have your site penalised!


Some of the most important Google changes are:


  • Update on Intrusive Interstitials
  • Mobile-First Indexing (also known as “Mobilegeddon”)
  • RankBrain
  • Panda
  • Penguin
  • Hummingbird
  • Pigeon

This is FAR from an exhaustive list – these are just the main ones I’ve encountered where clients have typically had major issues!

Where can you find Google's official news?

There are a lot of different ways that Google tells people about changes to its algorithm, here’s just a couple that I use to keep up to date, and be able to advise clients properly…



If you want to stay up to date on what Google is doing with its algorithm, it also has regular office hours called Google Search Central, which you can sign up for. There, people like John Mueller, a senior webmaster trends analyst for Google, will be able to answer your questions right away.

The last thing…

There are a lot of moving and complicated parts to the Google Search Algorithm, and it changes all… the… time! However, its main goal of giving the best results for a search query hasn’t changed at all.


In spite of all of Google’s changes, the basics of SEO haven’t changed much since search engines first came out. If you pay attention to the information you learned about in this article, you will be able to get on the SERPs eventually!


In short:


  • Content that is high-quality and well-formatted should match the search intent of your keywords.
  • When you write something, make sure it’s up to date.
  • Make sure your site is easy for people to use.
  • Build links that are relevant to the subject at hand, not just general links.

According to Google, these are the things it looks for in a search algorithm.


Feel free to share this with whoever needs to read it, and if you’d like more help with your own SEO, feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to share my expertise!

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