Let’s start with a disclaimer: The reality is, we can never fully understand every piece of Google’s search algorithm. Only Google has the secret insight into how the Google algorithm works.
However, we have developed a firm grasp of what is in Google’s algorithm by understanding several key factors:
Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” If you’ve made your site easy to use and navigate, and if you have rich content that addresses potential customer questions and pain points, you’re way ahead of your competitors already.
Why? Because you’ve already addressed most of the factors that Google could even use in their algorithm. You’ve done a huge part in helping Google succeed in their mission, because your information is organized and ready to consume. You’ve made it universally accessible because your site is easy to use. You’ve also done such a great job answering customer questions and pain points that your site is now awesomely useful.
It doesn’t hurt that we have tens of thousands of hours of experience and education to understand how certain actions affect the way Google’s algorithm handles results.
Our agency has been around since 2007, which makes us essentially 100 years old in digital marketing years. From this experience, we know some things work well; some things help a little bit; some information is outdated; and some things that used to help no longer help.
We also know what hurts. Whether you call it SEO or knowing the algorithm, the goal is to attract the right audience and lead them to purchase. Over the years, we’ve learned how specific actions improve rankings. This has helped us safely estimate what the algorithm does consist of.
With that information, we can prioritize areas of emphasis when outlining our recommendations. That way, our clients get the healthiest mix of improvements based on a cost/benefit analysis. For example, bolding text on every landing page isn’t going to be worth it, since it produces nominal increases, if any, in rankings. What we do know, though, is that when search visitors immediately find the search term they used on the page, they are more likely to convert.
For future redesigns or landing page improvements, clarifying the information people are looking for will only improve your results. Sure, page design, layout, content structure, and sizing are all important factors. But if choosing between SEO or user experience, it’s critical to understand that user experience is increasingly important to Google’s ranking factors. If Google sees that a site visitor quickly left your page, it may reverse any temporary boosts to your rankings.
The biggest gray area in the perception of the algorithm is the understanding of link building and general “popularity” around the web. Again, rather than worrying about how Google thinks about things in their algorithm, how do you think about things?
Do you prefer companies that showcase expertise and are visible in the industry and major publications? Or do you prefer a company that stays under the radar and doesn’t prove knowledge?