Understanding The Main Factors of SEO

Google is amazing. You can just type in anything you want to find and boom! within a second Google searches through literally trillions of webpages and finds exactly what you need. That is pretty cool…but not entirely accurate.

So how does Google work?

Google (or any search engine) works very much like a human brain actually. This is not that surprising as Google in fact was built by humans.

Let’s start from the beginning..

When a website is first created it needs to be submitted to Google’s “index”. The index is the memory part of the Google brain. In order for information to get into the brain it needs to be discovered. Submitting the website to the index tells Google that your site exists.

Google will then send out “crawlers” to crawl the website. Crawlers are Google’s eyes. Crawling is reading the site. The website’s information is then processed and stored in the index (memory).

When a user searches for something of interest to them, Google then checks its memory for websites that it understood to be relevant. This website is already in Google’s memory and already “labeled” as relevant to the search.

Let’s see an example:

The site sells blue suede shoes. Google crawls the site and determines that it is a site selling blue suede shoes. A user searches to buy blue suede shoes and Google feeds up this site.

Super simple, huh?!

Yes, but that’s if there is only one website selling blue suede shoes. What happens if there are more?

Let’s pause for a moment to use our own mind which will better help us understand the next topic.

What’s the first thing you think of when I say:

company that sells sneakers-

fastest internet providers-

best dairy restaurant-

Don’t worry, I’m not about to try guessing what you’re thinking of. I’m going to explain WHY you are thinking of it.

There are 3 main factors that affected what came to your mind:




1)Relevance – Your mind just did a very quick calculation. Simply speaking: Pizza Hut doesn’t sell sneakers so that’s irrelevant, Macy’s technically does sell sneakers so it’s somewhat relevant, Foot Locker specializes in selling sneakers so that’s highly relevant. Obviously that is not the exact calculation but that is the concept. Your mind may have taken it a step further for example: Nike sells and makes the sneakers making them even more relevant.

2)Popularity – Which internet provider do most of the people you know use? Which internet provider’s ads have you seen more frequently? These affect your perception of the popularity of the provider and will cause the more popular one to come to mind sooner than the rest.

3)Experience – A restaurant which you’ve had a good experience at would quickly come to mind. We like to experiences and like to recall them. (note: if you recently had a terrible experience at one then it would come to mind as well but that is only in the short term, longer term the good experiences will triumph.)

Let’s get back to Google:

1)Relevance – much the same way as your mind narrowed down to a select few using relevance, so does Google. When a user searches “buy blue suede shoes”, Google excludes the irrelevant and then works its way closer to the most relevant. 

Theory to practice: you need to make sure that your site clearly tells Google’s crawlers exactly what it is about. In addition to looking for keywords in the meta tags, h tags, alt tags, etc., the crawlers want to see relevant content. Strong, well written, useful content that is relevant to your business.

2)Popularity – What makes one website more popular than the next? Visitors, Social Media presence, mentions, backlinks. Each of these are like little votes saying “I like this site”, “This site is good”, etc. Just like in the real world, a vote of popularity isn’t just a numbers game, quality is king. An endorsement from just 1 celebrity is worth more than 1,000 random people saying they like something.

Theory to practice: Get on Social. Get active. Start working on a strategy to build up your backlinks. Get attention from high quality sites and your site will become “popular” too.

3)Experience – What type experience will visitors have on your site? Is the site user-friendly? Simple navigation, good layout and structure, mobile optimized, flowing and non-intrusive imagery, etc. Google can evaluate the user-friendliness of your site using all those factors. 

Theory to practice: Make sure your site is setup to give people a good experience. Don’t make things complicated. A child should be able to navigate your site. Look at this this way, if a child can do it then a brain surgeon can too, but not vice versa. You want everyone to be able to have a good experience using the site.

While Google has many other factors that affect a site’s rankings, these are the main ones. Hopefully now that you have an understanding of how Google’s “mind” works, you can put it to good use in trying to rank your site higher.

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